A "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" Story
By Sue Stanhope
Many thanks to Chris Bishop for the creation of the characters of Magenta's family and Ox and for allowing me to use them. There are also small references her stories "A Question of Trust" and "Spectrum is White". The references are subtle and it is not essential to this story that you read Chris' stories first. But if you haven't read them, then I strongly recommend that you do - they are excellent!
Captain Magenta was relaxed; Blue had told him many times that Boston was fun, but heíd left it until this furlough to see for himself. He had known that even Blueís enthusiasm for the place wasnít going to do it justice, and he had been right. He had had a great time here already, but with only a 72 hour furlough and over half his time already gone; he was determined to make the most of the remaining 24 hours. Another trip down to the concierge desk to get some advice, he thought.
The enthusiastic concierge desk clerk laughed and joked with the dark-haired Irishman; there was something about Magentaís bubbling sense of fun that made people warm to him after even the briefest of conversations and this was another of many. Absorbed in his conversation, Magenta was completely unaware that he was being watched. A man standing near the reception desk was speaking quietly into a cell-phone. At the end of the brief exchange, he nodded and returned the phone to his pocket.
Finishing his conversation, Magenta strode out of the hotel. With a quick flick of his wrist, the dark sunglasses he held opened up and he placed them over his eyes. Smiling happily he felt the warmth of the sun on his face.
Captain Grey surfaced shaking the water from his hair, grinning at Blue as he recoiled from the soaking.
"So?" he asked expectantly, "Any quicker?"
"No!" said Blue angrily, reaching for the towel beside him.
"Oh come on, Adam! Itís only water. What was my time?"
"Okay, youíre a second faster."
"Really?" Grey beamed.
"Yeah Brad, a WHOLE second!"
"That secondís gonna save your ungrateful life one of these days, Blue."
"Ungrateful! Iím sat here timing you going up and down this pool and youÖ."
Blue closed his eyes and screwed his face up as the water hit him. Wiping his face, he checked his soaked tunic. Looking up, he glared at Grey; his eyes seemed to take on a darkness that Grey only rarely saw in the younger captain. But then, Grey taking another swipe at the water and soaking him again didnít help matters at all. Blue was livid. Watching his compatriotís face, Grey kicked back in the water, laughing almost uncontrollably. There was no doubting that his laugh was infectious, even the furious Blue knew he couldnít stay angry for long. He shook his head and smiled whilst he wiped himself down.
"Sorry, Adam," came a voice from his side. Captain Grey stood next to him, drying himself with another towel.
Blue looked up and smiled. "Thatís okay, Brad," he said getting to his feet. Turning sharply, he lowered his shoulder and ploughed into Grey forcing him backwards.
Finding himself off balance on the very edge of the pool, Grey grabbed Blueís tunic collar, much to Blueís alarm. "Youíre coming in with me, Adam!"
"Let go!" Blue cried as the pair tumbled into the pool.
Scarlet could barely contain his laughter as he watched from the door to the changing rooms. As Blue broke the surface of the water, he turned a bedraggled head towards his convulsed friend and field partner.
"Shut up!" he complained.
Grey swam up beside him, grinning. Blue sighed and finally saw the funny side. Swimming to the edge of the pool, Blue extended a hand.
"Give me a hand?" he asked Scarlet.
"Youíve got to be kidding! And let you drag me in there with you?"
Blue frowned; the thought had crossed his mind. He hauled himself out. Grey was still laughing helplessly in the pool at the sight of the drenched captain, who was looking very sorry for himself indeed. Scarlet was laughing equally hard, that his knees almost buckled under him. He saw Blue glowering at him and brought himself in check.
"What are you doing here anyway?" asked Blue.
Scarlet had to think; his mind had gone a complete blank, thanks to their antics.
"Oh, yeah. The old man wants to see you."
"I donít know. Iím just the messenger."
"Well, while Iím there, maybe Iíll suggest a permanent demotion to that role for you."
"Thanks Blue!" called Grey from the pool. He received no response as Blue left the pool area. "Hey Scarlet? What are you doing for the next half hour?"
Scarlet glanced down at the discarded stopwatch. "Oh, go on then, but no soakings."
"I promise," agreed Grey raising his hands in appeasement.
Magenta hadnít left the hotel long when he started to feel decidedly uncomfortable. His years as a New York mob boss followed by his years at Spectrum had made him sensitive to impending danger. He never thought heíd feel it here, whilst on vacation. He shook his head; he was getting like Scarlet with his in-built Mysteron detector, except he wasnít at all sure what he was detecting. He decided to take a break from his city tour and relax in a bar. Heíd have a drink or two and watch for anything suspicious.
Ordering a beer, Magenta let his stare wander casually around the room. Apart from the people already in there, only three others had entered since he sat down. One man drew his attention immediately, a suspicious looking, and wiry framed guy reading a newspaper. Magenta watched as the man folded the newspaper carefully and stood up.
"Hmm, not him then," Magenta said to himself as he watched the man plant a kiss on the cheek of a lady and sit back down to a lively discussion.
"Talking to yourself, Mr Donaghue?"
Magenta turned his head; he hadnít seen the young man creep up on his left.
"Do I know you?"
"I know you, we both do."
A second man now leaned on the bar to Magentaís right; he guessed that they were both in their late teens or, at most, early twenties.
"Would you like a drink, Mr Donaghue?"
"I have one, and you donít look old enough anyway," said Magenta coolly. "Who are you and what do you want?"
"Thereís no need to be rude with us, Mr Donaghue. Weíve come with an invitation from a friend."
"A friend, thatís all."
"No thanks." Magenta finished his beer.
"I donít think you understandÖ"
"No, I think I understand perfectly."
Magenta raised his elbow sharply into the chest of the man to his left, who doubled over breathlessly. The second man grabbed Magentaís arms and tried to hold him still. Taking a step back to steady himself, Magenta pulled the second man forward. Dragging him almost over his shoulder, unbalancing him and throwing him forcefully into the first manís path as he was starting to regain his composure. The first pushed the second man out of the way as he lunged at Magenta pressing him backwards against the bar.
"Please feel free to give me a hand here at any time." Magenta suggested politely to the barman, who had been unhelpfully pretending not to notice the brawl.
Finally, the barman picked up a water jug resting on the bar. That would make a pretty good weapon, thought Magenta as he struggled with the two men. Oh no! He thought as, out of the corner of his eye, he saw it being swung in his direction. Ducking swiftly, he narrowly avoided the blow. The jug crashed to the bar and shattered. Glass and water rained down on him as he pulled his arm out of the grip of the man to his left. Straightening up, he turned, pushing the other man against the bar. Looking beyond his mystery assailant, Magenta was worried, where had the barman gone? Briefly distracted, he cursed as he saw the other man spring towards him. Wrapping his arms around Magentaís waist, he wrestled the surprised Spectrum officer to the floor. His attacker must have been a good twenty pounds lighter than the tall, broad set captain. Using it to his advantage, Magenta rolled easily, throwing him off. Getting to his feet, Magenta eyed the second man, who appeared to be standing back, warily. Magentaís eyes closed tightly as he felt the pain of something crashing down on the back of his head. Slowly he crumpled at the feet of his attackers. The barman stood behind, holding a glass handle; all that remained of another water jug.
"Thanks!" grinned one of Magentaís assailants.
"Just get him out of here," the barman snapped. "I donít want to know who or why, just go!"
"Okay, calm down. You just keep up the payments, like all the other bars around here, and," he nodded to Magenta lying on the floor, "help out now and again, and youíll be kept out of it. Nobody will call on you."
"Youíre not the usual guys," the barman suddenly realised with concern.
"No, weíre Ďvisitingí. We do have permission, weíre not rivals. You havenít upset anyone. Except him." With a laugh, he nodded down again at Magenta.
If Magenta had still been conscious, he would have noticed, with considerable disapproval, that not a soul in the bar acted as if they had seen anything. Between them, the two men lifted him and exited through the deliveries entrance to the bar.
Magenta woke with a start. He screwed up his eyes as he felt his head aching. He opened them after a moment or two, growing accustomed to the dull pain. It was dark, cramped and hot. Trying to feel about his surroundings, he realised his hands were taped behind him. Likewise, his feet were similarly immobilised, and another length of tape had been placed firmly across his mouth. From the feel of it, he was locked in the trunk of a car and it was moving at some speed. He couldnít believe what was happening to him; he was on vacation and heíd been kidnapped. They knew his name, but apparently not that he worked for Spectrum. Ah, Spectrum. By this time tomorrow, they would be worried and search for him. But where, and would he still be alive when they found him? He wished he knew who was behind this and why. The only thing he could be reasonably sure of was that it wasnít a Mysteron threat; but that didnít really pin it down very far. He also wished he knew how long heíd been unconscious. Sweat beaded on his forehead and he felt weak and dehydrated, he suspected heíd been in there for a couple of hours already. Furious at the indignity he had been forced to endure, he kicked at the side of the car. The banging would be enough to attract some attention, he thought, welcome or otherwise.
He felt the vibrations stop as the car slowed and came to a halt. The trunk opened and Magenta squinted in the sudden bright sunlight.
"What?" said the gruff voice above him.
Magenta sighed; was the man stupid or just being plain difficult? How could he possibly answer that question with the tape over his mouth? Not that he felt it needed answering, wasnít it obvious? The second man appeared at his side. Staring down at Magentaís dishevelled appearance, he realised that their captive was in dire need of a cold drink and some air.
"I told you it was too far to do this in a car! Look at him!"
The stale air replaced by fresh had revived Magenta somewhat, but he still felt terrible. The second man crouched down and pulled the tape from Magentaís mouth. He gasped and coughed as the sticky gag was removed.
"What the hell are you doing?" the first man almost shouted.
"He canít breathe."
"Heís got a nose, hasnít he?"
"Thanks," uttered Magenta quietly. Having just had the gag removed, he was in no hurry to make a commotion, which would require them to replace it. "Where are you taking me?"
"We told you, to see an old friend," replied the man still standing.
"No friend of mine would do this to me."
"Well, maybe heís not so sure youíre still a friend of his."
"You talk too much, Jack," replied the crouching man. "You know he doesnít like us to even mention him."
Magenta laughed softly; these guys certainly werenít the brains of the outfit. His heart sank as the crouching man tore another strip of tape from the roll.
"I donít like being laughed at, Donaghue."
"And I donít like being tied up!" Magenta snapped. "Come on, Iím dying in here."
"Too bad," the man replied angrily, pushing the new length of tape firmly over Magentaís mouth. He could see the fury in Magentaís eyes, but only returned the look with his own harsh stare.
As the crouching man stood up, Jack had the final word. "And stop kicking the car, or Iíll have to stop you moving altogether."
The trunk was slammed shut, leaving Magenta to ponder the meaning behind the threat. He didnít believe theyíd actually kill him; they seemed far too scared of whomever the Ďfriendí was to do that. Out of sheer indignation, Magenta kicked again. Sighing, he decided it was best to just wait and see.
Scarlet and Grey entered the officersí lounge, neither of them had seen Captain Blue since he had stormed off to his meeting with Colonel White. They had hoped to see him in the lounge, but their minds were instantly distracted by what awaited them in there.
"Do you have to do that in here, Rick?" complained Grey. "Do you have any idea how bad that stuff is for your lungs?"
Ochre was bent over a table; a part-built model aircraft covered most of it. The pungent smell of the strong adhesive filled the lounge.
"Of course I know," smiled Ochre. "Thatís why I was sure you wouldnít want me using it in the confines of my quarters. You wouldnít want to find me passed out in there, would you?"
Grey stared at him, somewhat irritated by the clever retort. There wasnít much you could say to that, but if he said nothing Ochre would think he had a license to carry on.
"You could always try going outside, plenty of fresh air there," Grey suggested, with a sarcastic tone.
"Not too much in the way of oxygen though," Ochre replied.
The irritation in his voice was starting to show. Perhaps it was just Greyís bad timing. Ochre had been struggling with one tricky section for about twenty minutes and was really not in the mood for this latest distraction.
"Thereís not that much more in here!" Grey snapped.
"Hey, Brad." Scarlet placed a hand on his friends arm. It had started harmlessly enough, but it was turning nasty. He had to intervene. "Enough! Is it worth the row?"
Grey regarded Scarlet with a look of disdain and pulled his arm away. "Itís alright for you," he shouted angrily, "it wonít do your lungs any harm, will it?"
Scarlet swallowed, and stared wide-eyed at his friend. What had he done to deserve that? Grey saw the look in his eyes and realised heíd gone too far, way too far. Still fuming inside, he couldnít quite bring himself to calm down. Heíd apologise later. Pushing past Scarlet, he left the room.
Magenta stirred. He could hear the engine making soft pinging noises as it cooled down. He guessed that it had not long been switched off. At some point in the long journey, heat and dehydration had brought him to the point of exhaustion and he had passed out. It could hardly be considered sleep; he was feeling now neither refreshed nor relaxed. No, he felt pretty bad actually. Drained, disorientated and stiff. He looked up gloomily as the trunk was opened once more. This time instead of bright sunlight, he appeared to be in a rather poorly lit underground car park. His view, although quite restricted, at least seemed to suggest that no one else was nearby.
The man who stood before him was Jack. Without a word he reached down to cut the tape around Magentaís ankles, pulling off and screwing up the used tape, before discarding the sticky ball. Next he reached for the gag, pulling it away with unnecessary roughness and disposing of that too. Magenta took a long involuntary breath as a reflex action, gasping, as he almost seemed to take too much. Jack pulled him upright roughly, but Magenta slumped almost immediately as Jack released his arm.
"Get up!" Jack pulled at Magentaís arm again.
Hauling himself upright, Magenta found that the effort of coordinating his legs to climb out of the car trunk was something of a struggle.
"Come on!" Jack urged impatiently, grasping Magentaís ankles and swinging them out of the car trunk. Magenta almost lost his balance, swaying backwards, before steadying himself.
"Give me a break, Jack! Iím having a bit of trouble here."
"Youíll have more than a bit of trouble if you donít get a move on," Jack threatened.
Now having managed to struggle out of the car, the severely weakened Magenta dropped to his knees. Breathing steadily and slowly, if he was allowed the chance, heíd get his strength back soon.
"Whatís this?" The voice came from the stairwell roughly fifty feet away. A smartly dressed, slender man with neatly trimmed red hair approached and took in the scene.
"Delivery for the boss," laughed Jack.
The new arrival looked down at the man on his knees before him; he was somewhat taken aback by his sorry state. Quite clearly, Jack had paid little or no attention to his needs or well-being. He didnít care much for Jackís methods. But at least he was here and in one piece. Presumably the boss had a good reason and probably wanted the man to be a little scared, hence his treatment. He felt obliged to play along, even though he personally resented these games.
"Really?" he said slowly, moving closer. "And who do we have here then?"
The man placed his fingers under Magentaís chin and lifted his bowed head.
"Mr Donaghue!" he exclaimed, with obvious reverence in his voice. "Jack, whatís going on here? Do you know who this is?"
Magenta smiled, relieved. It was good to see a friendly face.
"Yeah! Of course I do." Jack could scarcely believe he was being asked the question; he knew his job. "We were told to pick him up and bring him here."
"In this condition? I doubt it!"
The man bent down to free Magentaís hands and then helped him to his feet.
"You canít do that!" snapped Jack in disbelief.
"Youíre going to stop me, Jack?"
"ErÖwell, no Mr Riordan. ButÖ"
"No," came the simple, no-nonsense reply. Turning to face Magenta, the man continued: "Iím so sorry, Mr Donaghue, really."
"Itís good to see you, Matt," Magenta grinned at him. "I could always rely on you."
So, Magenta thought, Iím in New York, and kidnapped by my old mob! He pondered this second detail with some curiosity. Jack had told him that he was taking him to see an old friend. Michael Brunton had been his right hand man in those days and also his closest friend. He would have expected him to take over, but not this. Brunton, like himself, had always insisted, no murders, no kidnappings. For a mob syndicate, they were decidedly well behaved. But, this was not the work of the man he knew. However, realising now where he was and with whom he was dealing certainly helped. Magenta mustered all the strength he had left and straightened himself up. Having to once again assume the persona of a Mob Boss, he smoothed back his ruffled hair and dusted himself down.
"So, Matt," Magenta fixed him with a stern expression, "resorting to kidnapping now?"
Matt Riordan had been one of Magentaís closest associates in the old days. Magenta knew him as a decent guy, very down to earth and dependable. Standing before his ex-boss he hung his head.
"There have been a lot of changes, Mr Donaghue," he said quietly.
There was something about his tone that made the hairs on the back of Magentaís neck stand up, a cold shiver ran down his spine.
"Matt," Magenta was aghast, "please tell me that you havenít killed anyone."
"No! Well," he sighed, "not me anyway."
Magenta was horrified at what heíd heard. How things had changed in the last few years.
"Who is this guy?" came the voice of Jack to his left, suddenly irritated to be ignored.
"Your Boss!" snapped Riordan.
"Rubbish! Do you think Mr James would allowÖ?"
"James?" Magenta cut in alarmed. "What happened to Brunton?"
Staring at Riordan as he struggled to find the words, Magentaís eyes betrayed the fear of the reply he felt sure he would hear.
Several times, Riordan mouthed the words that would start the explanation, but he simply could not vocalise it. He sighed heavily and shook his head.
"Iím sorry," was all he could manage to say.
Magenta turned furiously, seizing Jack by his shirtfront, he dragged him to within inches of his face.
"You were taking me to Gabriel James?" he asked through clenched teeth.
"Yes, Sir," Jack nodded, suddenly scared of his erstwhile captive.
Fearful authority flowed from Magenta as he slipped back, with surprising ease, into the role heíd given up three years earlier.
"Then maybe, I should pay him a call. On my terms!"
"Mr Donaghue, donít," implored Riordan. "I donít think he wants to reminisce with you over old times."
"Then he shouldnít have Ďinvitedí me, should he?" Magentaís voice was heavy with sarcasm.
"Well, at least come with me. Relax, get your strength back. Clean up, eat something?"
It was true; Magenta needed all of these things. He nodded his agreement.
"I could do with a drink and a shower. But first things first. You!" he turned to Jack, "Get your hands behind your back."
There was something about Magentaís tone that was now somehow different; Jack obeyed without a word.
Taping his hands, Magenta shoved him into the still open trunk and secured his ankles. Tearing a small strip and placing it firmly over Jackís mouth, Magenta looked down at him with a satisfied smile.
"And Jack," he paused for effect, "donít kick the car!"
With that, he vehemently slammed the trunk shut.
"Paul?" Ochre spoke at last.
Scarlet ignored him, pretending instead to be interested in a magazine he had picked up. Ochre got up, sauntered over and sat down in front of him.
"Paul?" he said again.
A pair of eyes, tired, sad eyes, looked up at him. "What?" Scarlet asked.
"Iím sorry." The simple statement was clearly heartfelt.
"For what?" Scarlet asked looking down at his magazine again.
"Well, I provoked him."
"Forget it, Rick. Iím not bothered by what he said."
"I said, forget it!" Scarlet replied angrily, throwing down the magazine. Getting to his feet, he turned toward the door to the lounge. Ochre grabbed his arm.
"Paul, I know Iím not Blue, but you can talk to me too, you know!"
Scarlet looked at him intently, seeming to decide whether or not to speak. He tried to pull his arm out of Ochreís grasp; he wouldnít let go. Scarlet sighed a deep, heavy sigh.
"I know Iím different, Rick. I see it every day. I live it. Sometimes itís great, I can put myself in life-threatening situations which makes sure one of you guys donít throw your lives away. ButÖ"
"Itís another matter if your friends think youíre different. Day to day, you know?"
His voice tapered off. The truth was, Ochre didnít know, he couldnít possibly know how Scarlet felt. But, thought Ochre, maybe Scarlet was forgetting that not all his differences could be attributed to what the Mysterons had done to him. Maybe it was time for a reminder.
"Believe me, Paul, even if it werenít for the Mysterons, youíd be different. You were different the first time we all met up. Good different. Youíre a good friend, Paul. I count my blessings every day that we didnít lose you."
Scarlet smiled. "Thanks, Rick. Maybe youíre more like Blue than you realise."
"Iíll take that as a compliment, shall I?"
"Thatís better," said Ochre, grinning back. "Now, how about I beat you in a couple of laps around the track?"
"Youíve got no chance!" Scarlet turned to leave for the gym, cheered by his friend and ready for the challenge.
Captain Grey sat alone in his quarters. Today he had annoyed everybody, Blue, Ochre and Scarlet.
It was Scarlet in particular who was on Greyís mind; he really felt terrible, and he knew heíd hurt him. All Scarlet had done was to try to prevent an argument between him and Ochre. For his trouble, Grey had lashed him with a comment that, even as he said it, he knew the reaction it would provoke. He should have apologised immediately, but he hadnít. He felt dreadful about it. He was edgy. He needed a mission.
A knock at the door stirred him from his thoughts. He hoped it would be Captain Scarlet, or at least anybody but Ochre, he really couldnít face a barrage from him at the moment. He knew he was in the wrong. With some trepidation, he got to his feet and opened the door.
"Oh!" Grey said with an almost disappointed tone, "Adam. Come in," he invited with some hesitation.
"Are you okay, Brad?" asked Blue with a concerned edge to his voice.
"YeahÖno. I was hoping it would be Paul."
"Whatís up?" Blue noticed the look in his colleagueís eyes; it was a mixture of wretchedness and guilt.
"Oh, I donít know Adam. Iíve upset everyone today," Grey replied, flopping back down into the chair he had occupied for the last hour. Waving his hand, he indicated another seat for Blue.
"Well, Iím not upset, so you can take me off your list," the blonde captain replied cheerfully, taking up the offer as he spoke, "Who else?"
"Iíve had a big row with Rick."
"You canít upset Rick, heís too thick-skinned. What have you said to Paul, thatís whatís really bothering you isnít it?"
"I canít remember exactly, but the gist of it was, why should he care about anybodyís health because whatever happened, heíd be okay." Grey stared down at his feet.
"I know. And I havenít even apologised yet. I was hoping that was him knocking."
"Heís in the gym with Rick, I passed them on the way here. He seemed okay."
"Good, I need to see both of them. Iíll go now."
"Okay, but whatís wrong? This isnít like you, Brad."
"I donít know, Adam. I think Iím getting a bit jumpy with nothing to do. It seems to have been ages since our last alert."
"I donít know!" Blue smiled. "You trigger-happy Navy guys. Much as I enjoyed being a test pilot, I donít think I ever once said to myself, ĎSay Adam, itís been ages since youíve flown a potential death trap, isnít that starting to annoy you?í!"
"Oh, very funny! Like itís not making you a little bit twitchy that we donít have a mission at the moment?"
"Ah, well, thatís where youíre wrong. Iíve got an assignment."
"What, just you? What is it?"
Blue frowned. "Donít get envious yet! The Mayor of New York is giving a speech. You know how he likes all the ceremony side of things, so he wants a Spectrum presence. Donít ask me why! I think the old man only agreed to it because thereís nothing happening at the moment."
"So how come you got it?"
"Well, actually," Blue shined his fingernails, "the Mayor asked for me specifically."
Grey thought about it, "Thatís right, youíve met him before havenít you?"
"Yeah, I saved his life." It wasnít like Blue to boast about such things. Grey knew instantly that there was something else behind the comment. His puzzled expression was enough to prompt Blue to explain, "I stopped Paul from killing him. Mayor Andrew Coleman is a real President Roberts."
Grey grinned. "I see."
The phrase had been coined soon after the incident when the Mysterons had threatened to destroy President Roberts. Spectrum had concentrated on the man himself only to discover, almost too late, that a ship was being named after him. Risking his life, Scarlet had saved the ship and all the lives of the people gathered for the launching. But, although President Roberts eventually conceded that the threat was genuine, his initial refusal to cooperate had made the mission a very trying one. For Scarlet in particular.
"Anyway, if youíre going to come, youíd better go and apologise now. Weíll be leaving first thing in the morning. Well, as soon as theyíve given us the final details. You know what the Mayorís like, no information until the last minute."
"Yeah, I figured you needed a break. The Colonelís happy with it, so long as we remain on recall should anything important happen. Mayor Coleman wonít let Scarlet anywhere near him and I shouldnít think Ochre, with his temper, would prove any more tolerant, do you?"
"He can be a little blunt at times. But then, Iíve got everyoneís back up today too."
"You just need something to do."
It was four hours after their meeting, that Riordan opened the door to his apartment. It had been a long day for Magenta but at least he had had a chance to get something to eat and get his strength back. From the moment they had left the restaurant, he knew that they were being watched. Evidently they had found Jack. They probably thought their surveillance was discreet, but they appeared to have forgotten that he actually recognised most of them. They appeared to be allowing him to wander freely about the city, but he expected that any attempt to escape would be quickly halted. But even Magenta did not anticipate the Ďwelcome partyí awaiting them when they arrived at Riordanís apartment.
Switching on the light, Riordan took in a sharp breath as he saw and felt the gun suddenly at his cheek.
"Come in, Mr Riordan," a familiar voice ordered. "You too, Mr Donaghue, if you donít want any more blood on your hands."
Magenta could see the gun and its owner, Jack, looking fiercely in his direction.
"Okay, Jack. Easy on the trigger." Magenta walked in keeping his hands in full view.
Once inside, Jack pulled him to one side and forced him against the wall, pressing his gun to Magentaís chest. Both men stood there for a moment or two simply staring at each other. Slowly, deliberately, Jack cocked the pistol and waited. Getting no reaction, Jack was furious and pushed the barrel of the gun harder into Magentaís chest. Flinching, Magenta glared back angrily, silently promising himself that no matter what else, when the tables were turned, this kid would feel the full fury of Spectrum, or at the very least, that of one Captain Magenta.
"Jack!" Riordan shouted in a commanding voice.
Jack stood back from Magenta and indicated with the gun to Riordan that he should go into the room beyond. Magenta cast Riordan a confused glance, was he with them? Had this whole thing been a charade to get him there? But they already had him, why go through the pretence?
Magenta followed Riordan toward the dining room, Jack behind, covering him closely with the gun.
"Matt, whatís going on? What did he mean by Ďany more blood on my handsí?" Magenta asked, receiving no reply.
On entering the dining room, Magenta was confronted with a scene that chilled his blood. At a large oval table sat three men he knew and loathed. In return, six eyes fixed him with hard, cold stares. In the centre sat a tall, slight man with slicked back dark hair, which accentuated his chiselled features. He was puffing casually on a Cuban cigar; in front of him sat a large glass with a generous measure of the finest cognac. The man was Gabriel James, a particularly ruthless and unscrupulous member of Donaghueís syndicate in his earlier incarnation. Heíd been an ambitious troublemaker then, but now, it seemed, he had become Donaghueís successor. Other, more worthy men, had apparently gone missing or worse, been killed. Magenta had hated him then and nothing had changed his mind on the subject.
"Good evening, Patrick. Glad you could join us. Of course you already know Ben Fisher and Mark Abbott."
Either side of James sat the heads of two other smaller but significant local syndicates. At least not much had changed there. Magenta regarded them coolly and gave only the briefest of nods in acknowledgement.
"Whatís going on, Gabriel?" Magenta asked finally.
"First things first, Patrick." James spoke slowly, almost condescending. "Matthew?"
Magenta looked over towards Matt Riordan, who was now standing at the other end of the dining room with, he recognised, the second of the two men who had kidnapped him. Riordan stepped forward on Jamesí command.
"Why did you prevent Jacob doing what I asked?"
"Mr James?" asked Riordan, unsure of his meaning.
"You know what I mean, Matthew. Why did you prevent Jacob from bringing Mr Donaghue directly to me?"
Magenta sighed inwardly; Riordan was clearly very afraid of James, but nevertheless loyal to his friend. It must have taken an awful lot of courage to do that, he thought.
"I didnít care for his methods. He was showing no respect, treating him poorly. Mr Donaghue was in a desperate state when he arrived, he couldnít even stand," Riordan explained.
"He called him my Boss, Mr James. Iím not sure where his loyalties lie," Jack cut in vindictively.
Magenta turned and backhanded Jack across the face. Jack held his left hand up to his stinging cheek and waved the gun at Magentaís face.
"Iím gonna kill you for that, Donaghue!"
Magenta replied with another blow and a disdainful stare. His chest rose and fell rapidly as he struggled to contain his anger. "What is this, Gabriel? Running short on men these days?" he asked scornfully, not taking his eyes off Jack for a moment.
James laughed softly and took another long draw on the cigar. "Iím impressed, Patrick," he laughed again. "The kid doesnít have a clue who you are, heís got a gun on you and you still manage to scare the life out of him. You havenít lost it, Patrick, not at all."
"You havenít changed either, Gabriel," Magenta replied, then thought to himself, Ďstill a loathsome little worm!í
"I know thatís not a compliment coming from you, Patrick."
"Cut to the chase, Gabriel. Whatís going on?" Magenta was getting irritable now.
"Quite simple. Three years ago, Patrick, you disappeared. Around the same time, many of our men also disappeared. Some of them wound up in jail, some were never seen again. We want to know, if the two events were connected."
So that was it? He was on some sort of trial. Magentaís first thought was relief that they didnít know about his position with Spectrum. Then other thoughts came thick and fast; he was forced to assimilate them quickly as he would need to act fast. Firstly, he felt certain that those who went missing, like his right hand man, Michael Brunton, were almost all of the men loyal to him, to clear the path for Jamesí take over. They had no idea where heíd been; he could say anything. Possibly the most important question of all was, if, as he suspected, this was all a show, why bother? They had clearly gone to some trouble to get him there, yet it had obviously been a coincidence that he had been spotted. Without knowing about Spectrum, they couldnít know he would get a period of furlough at that exact time, let alone where he would take it. Could it be that James was in some sort of trouble and needed someone to take some of the heat away? The lucky sighting of the Syndicateís ex-boss could have been the break James needed. Magenta decided to play his hunch; heíd soon know if he were wrong.
"Youíve got some nerve, Gabriel! You know exactly where Iíve been. I had no idea just how badly you wanted the business. If I had, Iíd have been looking over my shoulder a lot more. I wish Iíd known then what you were planning. What exactly are you trying to pin on me now?"
"What are you talking about, Donaghue?" asked James, somewhat taken aback. He had expected Donaghue to deny the accusation, obviously; after all it was a complete fabrication. But his answer just didnít seem to fit any of the responses heíd expected.
"Donít act innocent with me, Gabriel!" Magenta snapped. "You set me up, good and proper. How long were you working on it? I spent two and a half years in de Wittís Penitentiary thanks to your handiwork!"
"De Witt?" interrupted Fisher. "Thatís a terrorist facility. If youíre trying to convince us, Mr Donaghue, that you received a sentence of only two and a half years for terrorism, thenÖ"
"I got life!" Magenta yelled back at him. "I spent the whole time and most of my money trying to get out. I finally escaped six months ago, with hardly a cent to my name. Do you have any idea how much money they can get out of you when youíre that desperate, Mr Fisher?" Magenta clarified with more than a hint of bitterness in his voice. "I should have come right back out and killed you for what you did to me, Gabriel."
"And why didnít you, then?" asked Abbott.
"Because, contrary to what they said at the trial, Iím not actually a murderer."
"Who were you supposed to have killed then? Who could I possibly have killed and framed you for, that would have got you into de Wittís?" asked James, certain that this would silence him. He could not have been further from the truth.
"World Government Police Corps Commander Richard Fraser," replied Magenta in monotone, as if repeating something heíd heard many times before, his eyes never straying from James as he spoke.
The room grew silent for a moment. It was true that Donaghue had disappeared around the same time as Fraserís death. Could it be true? Had James engineered his death and framed Donaghue for it? Commander Fraser had died as a result of a bomb planted in his car; this would certainly have been viewed as an act of terrorism. Abbott and Fisher certainly seemed to be considering the possibility. Magenta pressed his advantage.
"Oh, you got everything you wanted in one go, didnít you Gabriel. You got rid of Fraser, me, you got the business. How did you do that? Did you get rid of Michael too?" Magenta shook his head in disbelief, moving forward he placed both hands on the table and leaned across. "All the men that you Ďlostí, Gabriel, were they loyal to you or me? Did you really lose Ďyourí men or mine? I couldnít help but notice at the trial, there was no one able to come forward with an alibi for me, had you already got rid of everyone by then?" Magenta sighed and slammed his hand down on the table.
James blanched. He knew Donaghueís tale was almost as fabricated as his own, but it was clear the others werenít so convinced.
"You said you were in de Wittís for two and a half years?" asked Fisher
"Yes," replied Magenta wearily. Inwardly, he thanked the World Government for making it impossible to obtain information on inmates of terrorist prison facilities.
"So, where have you been for the last six months?" Fisher pressed him further.
"Thatís none of your business."
"We have a right to know, Mr Donaghue," Abbott joined in.
"You have no rights over me at all!" Magenta snapped. "You think Iím going to tell you, knowing that Gabriel got me locked up in the first place? Youíve got to be kidding! The only reason Iím here now is because he wants me back there or dead, and I suspect itís the latter!"
"Nobodyís going to kill you, Mr Donaghue," replied Fisher.
"No? ThenÖ" Magenta stopped suddenly, then laughed softly, shaking his head. "Oh, I see," he seemed barely able to conceal his amusement. "Oh, Gabriel, I knew you were a sly one, but this?" He shook his head again. "This is something, even for you."
"Watch what youíre saying, Donaghue!" said James, suddenly nervous.
"What are you saying now, Mr Donaghue?" Abbott asked impatiently.
"I canít prove a word of what Iím saying to you, and you know that. Iím the best there is with computers, and even I couldnít get that sort of information from de Wittís, itís simply too restricted. You find out Iíve escaped, quite by chance maybe, and you see it as your opportunity to frame me again, but this time for your murder spree! I canít believe that youíve managed to convince them," Magenta waved his hand in the direction of Fisher and Abbott, "that I somehow got bored of running the most lucrative Syndicate in the State and then disappeared because some better offer somehow came up! Perhaps even the World Government gave me a Pardon? If they believe that, theyíre more gullible than I thought!" Magenta smiled inwardly Ė that was exactly what had happened, but admittedly, it did sound ludicrous.
"Oh yes? Or maybe youíre working for Spectrum, alongside Commander Fraser?" James came back.
Magenta gave him a harsh stare. Oh God, he thought, please, let him be joking!
"Enough of this!" shouted Fisher. "I think youíve got some explaining to do, Gabriel."
Oh, Iím going to enjoy this, thought Magenta, barely concealing his satisfaction.
"This is ridiculous," snapped James, "I brought you here to proveÖ" he stopped suddenly, "When we discovered Donaghue was alive, it confirmed our suspicions that he had turned our men over to the police. What did they offer you, Patrick? Maybe you did get that Pardon after all."
"Iím not quite sure which of your suggestions is the most ridiculous, Gabriel. That I work for Spectrum with Commander Fraser, or I got a World Government pardon. Naturally, Iím sure Mark and Ben here arenít entirely convinced of either, so I donít need to push the matter. No, Gabriel," Magenta sighed, "I dropped suddenly off the scene, into de Wittís, as well you know. And you planted that bomb in Fraserís car didnít you?" Magentaís voice sounded bitter and resentful.
"Gabriel?" Fisher cut in, "Can you prove your version?"
"My version!" James bellowed. "Has it not occurred to you that heís only saying he was in de Wittís because we canít prove it? And even if he was there, does that necessarily mean he didnít arrange for the disappearance of our men? Maybe he got a lighter sentence because he struck a deal, I never heard of anyone escaping from de Wittís before. Does he even look like a fugitive? More like a tourist!"
"You think I should hide out? Slink around, drawing attention to myself?" Magenta cut in, before all his hard work was completely destroyed. "So a Mr P Donaghue checks into a hotel? So what? Theyíre not looking for me, are they?"
"We went to your hotel, turned your room over. Youíre not on the run, Patrick," James insisted.
"You did what? Oh, I swear Gabriel; Iím going to get you for this! The maid will see my room; theyíll call the police. For pityís sake, Gabriel, Iím wanted by Spectrum because of you!"
Fisher and Abbott exchanged glances with James, their expressions were ones of concern and disquiet. The original remit of Spectrum had been to deal with terrorism, despite the time undertaken with Mysteron threats; it was still one of their responsibilities. An escapee from de Wittís was not someone to have around, especially if you worked outside of the law yourself.
"What?" Magenta seemed uneasy too. "Theyíre already looking for me arenít they?" Magenta shook his head, "Thanks guys, Iíve kept away from them for six months, and in six hours youíve got them on my heels again."
"Theyíre not on to you yet, Mr Donaghue. Not as far as we know anyway," Abbott spoke gravely.
Magenta closed his eyes and took a deep breath. With his eyes closed, he mused over his acting abilities; he never knew he had it in him. They seemed to believe that he was telling the truth now. Oddly, the only truths he had told had been dismissed as ridiculous. Opening his eyes again, he stared with an expression filled with a mixture of disbelief and disappointment. Fisher and Abbott looked from him to James and back again, nobody seemed to know what to say or do next.
It was Fisher who broke the silence. "Gabriel, I donít care at this moment which one of you is telling the truth. We canít afford to have Spectrum coming around here. I say we hand him over and be done with it."
In truth, Magenta was elated by the prospect. There was a risk, however, that on seeing him, Spectrum Agents knowing him, would inadvertently give him away but he could deal with that at the time, if necessary. But for the moment, his cover required him to be terrified by the prospect of return to de Wittís Penitentiary.
"Hey!" he cried with apparent alarm, "You canít just hand me over to them. Theyíll send me back to de Wittís. Iíll never get out of there again!"
"I agree with Ben," Abbott spoke, completely ignoring Magenta.
"You canít!" Magenta protested again. Glancing around, he noticed the guns of Jack and Simon had been lowered; they had obviously ceased to view him as much of a threat. Magenta bolted for the door. He fled through to the entrance hall without anyone even raising a finger to stop him. He was obviously a lot quicker on his feet than anyone had given him credit for. Behind him, he heard James shouting at Jack and Simon to stop him. Now he was at the door to the apartment, he turned the handle but nothing happened. Looking around frantically for bolts, he could see they were all open. He pulled again; still the door would not budge.
"I think you need this."
Magenta turned; Jack stood behind him, holding a gun in his right hand and dangling a key in his left.
"Youíre going nowhere, Donaghue."
Stuffing the key back into his pocket for safekeeping, Jack shoved Magenta up against the door and pressed the barrel of the gun hard into his neck. Magenta flinched at the pain.
"When theyíre done with you, Iím going to kill you myself," Jack threatened him through clenched teeth.
Magenta glared back at him. "Donít make promises you canít keep, Jack," he snapped, his eyes blazing. The two stood staring at each other for what seemed like an eternity, until Jamesí voice cut through.
"Well, Patrick, what can I say? I didnít think Iíd ever see you this scared."
Jack stepped back and stood to the side as the three Syndicate Bosses drew near.
"You know they donít believe I set you up, Gabriel, more like the reverse. Youíve wasted your time, so why not just let me go?" Magenta paused and on receiving no response, added nervously, "Or are you going to hand me over to Spectrum? You want me back in de Wittís, donít you? "
"Oh, believe me Patrick, itís tempting, it truly is, but I didnít believe it until now."
"Believe what?" asked Magenta uncertainly.
"About de Wittís. The look on your face really says it all," James explained.
"What are you talking about, you didnít believe me? It was you who put me there!"
"Patrick," James shook his head slowly and deliberately, "we both know that isnít true. But regardless, what is true is that you donít want to go back there, do you?"
"Well, what do you think?" Magentaís struggled to keep his anger in check.
"Good, we agree at last."
"Whatís that supposed to mean?"
"I can keep you out of de Wittís, at a price," James appeared once again to be gaining the upper hand. He had remembered the all powerful override factor, which would turn Abbott and Fisherís doubts back into loyal support Ė money.
What?" Uh oh, thought Magenta, this has backfired.
"Your special talent with computers is an area in which weíve been somewhat thin on the ground since your mysterious departure."
"Ah! I wondered why Matt was still around, yet youíd got rid of everyone else." Magenta sounded as if he has thought out loud. He looked beyond the three men immediately before him and caught sight of Matt Riordan, now standing in the doorway; Riordan nodded almost imperceptibly.
"Patrick, I have a job for you. If you donít do itÖwe hand you over to Spectrum. Who knows," James laughed, "maybe thereís even some sort of bounty on you that we could collect?"
"YouÖ" Magenta began, suddenly lunging forward, toward James. Neither he nor his sentence got any further before Jack swung a heavy fist into Magentaís abdomen just below the breastbone. Aiming upwards, it had the effect of expelling all the air from Magentaís lungs. Dropping like a stone to his knees, Magenta held his stomach and gasped desperately for breath. Taking four or five short sharp breaths in swift succession, he began to compose himself. Sitting back on his heels, he glowered at Jack. He would pay for that sooner or later.
What a choice, thought Magenta. He knew that to maintain his cover and simply to stay alive, heíd have to agree to do whatever it was they wanted. At least, he reassured himself, this way he would be able to get a message to Spectrum. He had to somehow tell them what was happening to him and also to advise Ochre to stay well away. True, he looked quite a bit different now than he did three years ago; shaving off his beard had made quite a startling difference. But it wasnít unrealistic that someone like James would recognise him immediately. It could prove somewhat difficult for him, if the man, for whose murder he was supposed to have been jailed, suddenly turned up to rescue him.
"You hesitate, Patrick. I should have thought that you would have jumped at the offer. Iíve given you more than an opportunity to escape de Wittís for good. You can make back some of the money you lost too. Of course, if you donít do it, there will be questions. Maybe no one will get as far as calling Spectrum."
"Donít threaten me, Gabriel," Magenta said getting to his feet, "I know youíre in trouble."
"A quiet word I think, Patrick. If youíll excuse us gentlemen."
James roughly took hold of Magentaís arm and half led, half dragged him to an adjoining room, closing the door behind him. As James switched the light on, Magenta could see it was a bedroom. Shoved toward the centre of the small room, Magenta turned and put his hands in front of him, ready to block another push. James stood just in front of him, he realised that although they were roughly the same height, Magentaís build and fitness gave him the advantage. Magenta, for his part, knew that just outside were at least two men with guns ready to kill him on command. One of them would do it just for fun.
"So, is it Fisher and Abbott, are they moving in on you, Gabriel? Canít you maintain control?"
"Youíre very astute, Patrick. But we can both gain from this."
"If you think that I donít know that whatever you want me to do isnít going to end up with me getting arrested or killed, then you must think Iím really gullible."
"Gabriel, I told you once before, NEVER call me Pat."
"Weíre all friends here."
"Not you Gabriel, not any more. Not since youÖ"
"Are you ever going to let that go?" James fumed. "Itís been four years, Pat."
"I told you!"
"Iím trying to make it up to you, Patrick."
"What? YouÖI donít believe this, can you hear yourself? You have me kidnapped, you threaten to hand me over to Spectrum or kill me, and youíre trying to pin a charge on me of turning over syndicate members to the police and murder. And this is you trying to make it up to me? Iíd hate to be on the wrong side of you."
"You donít understand. Theyíre stronger now, theyíre moving in, and I canít hold them off. This is your territory, Patrick. Arenít you going to defend it?"
"For you? No."
"Well how about for you? Itís yours. Take it back. They respect you. Nobody ever tried anything like this when you were in charge."
"What happened to Michael?" Magenta asked coldly.
"Heís dead, but I donít know how," James replied, unconvincingly.
"Donít lie to me, Gabriel. Iím going to find out."
"Look, if Iíd done something, donít you think Iíd have worked out a story for you? I genuinely donít know."
Magenta had to admit that it seemed plausible; it wasnít like James to leave important details like that to chance.
"I donít want it back. Iím on the run, donít forget. Before, they could never prove anything, but now all they have to do is pick me up and Iím back there. Itís too dangerous for me."
"Patrick, I need your help. Iím sorry about the way Iíve gone about things, it was all for show. I thought Iíd be able to get them off my back. Theyíre trying to pin the disappearances on me; I thought if I could get you to take the blame, then Iíd buy some time. I wouldnít have let them do anything to you! Then you turned it round on me again, now they donít know what to believe. For all I know, it was them who framed you for Fraserís murder. I need your help, Patrick!"
"I donít owe you anything, Gabriel. Go on, call Spectrum, at least in de Wittís Iíll be alive."
James took a deep breath, his anger was more than apparent.
"Okay," he said, "Iíve tried threatening you, Iíve tried begging you. You leave me with no choice."
"What now?" Magenta now realised that James was clearly desperate for him to agree to do the job for him. He couldnít tell which of Jamesí statements throughout the course of all their conversations had been lies and which were truths, if any. But James was about to utter one single sentence that settled the true situation clearly in Magentaís mind. The man was as cold and ruthless as heíd always been.
"Howís your sister, Patrick?"
Magentaís blood drained from his face, leaving him pale and shaken. "What?"
"Howís Sarah? Have you spoken to her lately? Do you know where she is? I do."
Magenta lunged at him in a terrifying rage. Forced back against the wall, James felt strong fingers around his throat preventing him shouting for help.
"Where is she?" Magenta released his grip enough to allow James a whispered reply.
"Under surveillance. Sheís safe, for now."
"If you touch herÖ"
"I wonít need to, will I, Patrick?"
Magenta released him and stepped back; now there really was no choice. His parents, ashamed of his criminal activities, had disowned Patrick Donaghue. Nobody in his family had any knowledge of his new life with Spectrum. His sister was the only member of his family still willing to speak to him. How could he ever hope to face his family again if his sister was harmed by what they still believed were his Mobís activities? Besides, he loved his sister dearly. James knew this. Heíd suffer for this, Magenta promised himself.
"What do you want me to do?" Magenta asked resignedly.
"Thatís better," James rubbed his sore neck and cleared his throat, "thatís much better."
Stepping past Donaghue, James left the bedroom and re-entered the hallway.
"Mr Donaghueís feeling a little more cooperative now," he announced.
Magenta followed him out. The expression of sheer hatred on his face did not go unnoticed by either Fisher or Abbott. They were both intelligent men, who wondered what James could possibly have said to him that could not be said in front of them. They both looked at Riordan, they knew that he was a friend of Donaghueís. Had James threatened Riordan to force Donaghue to cooperate? Possibly Donaghue was about to say something that James didnít want them to hear. Or was he planning something? Whatever it was, their opinion of James, which wasnít high to begin with, had taken a serious downward turn.
"Jacob, Simon. Take Mr Donaghue to the office, Iíll follow later."
"Iím not going in the trunk of that car again."
"Iím sorry, Patrick, but you are. I canít let you see where youíre being taken."
"So blindfold me," Magenta suggested.
"Too easy to spot. You donít want to be seen by the police either, do you?"
"No." Magenta sighed.
"Matthew," James addressed Riordan, "sort out a computer for Mr Donaghue. The best of course and anything else he needs. Take it to the office for him."
"Is that really necessary?"
Magenta looked over toward Riordan, it obviously wasnít the computer reference that had provoked the comment. "Whatís Ďthe officeí?" he asked warily.
"Youíll see," laughed Jack poking him in the ribs with his gun.
"Jack!" Magenta had long since grown tired of his behaviour, no longer afraid of being shot by him whilst James needed him, Magenta delighted in goading him. "When I want your input, Iíll ask for it, okay?"
"Look," Riordan intervened, "I think we should just go. Trust me, Mr Donaghue, everything will be alright."
Riordanís voice shook with a certain degree of uncertainty; Magenta couldnít help but notice. Whatever this Ďofficeí was, he felt sure he wasnít going to like it.
Riordan, Jack and Simon escorted Donaghue back down to the car for the journey, Donaghue reluctantly allowing them to lock him in the trunk again.
Captain Grey stood at the entrance to the gym. He watched, unobserved, as Scarlet beat Ochre easily on the track. It wasnít even the retro-metabolism that helped him this time. As fit as Ochre was, he was more built for strength and speed than stamina. Scarlet had always excelled at stamina-based sports, even in school. Ochre even managed to lose gracefully. Out of breath, he smiled at Scarlet who grinned back, aware that Ochre had made his point. Yes, he was different, but he shouldnít chalk up all his differences to the Mysterons, this was one thing he could do easily, without their help.
"Paul? Rick? Can I talk to you?"
Ochre and Scarlet both looked over to where Grey was standing, a deeply apologetic expression on his face.
"Sure, Brad." Scarlet strolled over, Ochre following behind.
"Iím really sorry, Paul. I donít know what came over me. I canít believe I said that. Iím sorry."
"So you should be," snapped Ochre.
"Rick! Thatís not necessary." Scarlet admonished him.
"No, Paul, I deserve it. Iím sorry about snapping at you too, Rick."
"Thatís okay," sighed Ochre offering his hand.
Grey took it gratefully. Scarlet added his to the three-handed shake.
"Are you joining us?" asked Ochre. "We need somebody to beat him at something."
Grey laughed. "Oh, I think Iíd be wasting my time in here. The pool maybe. But I have to go and get some sleep, Blue and I have an assignment tomorrow."
"Really? What is it?" asked Ochre.
"Spectrum presence for Mayor Coleman," Grey replied, watching for Scarletís reaction. He wasnít disappointed.
"Oh, good luck with that!" Scarlet laughed.
"So are you going to share your plan with us, Gabriel?" asked Abbott, soon after their departure.
"Of course, gentlemen. Donaghue, as you know, is something of a genius with computers. Well how would you like to rob a bank, in fact several banks, from the comfort of your own home?"
"What are you talking about?" asked Fisher, with an irritable tone to his voice.
"Give me your account numbers, Iím about to make you both a lot richer."
"How?" asked Abbott, intrigued.
"Donaghue can break into the computer of every bank in the State and transfer money from their reserves into our accounts, then delete the transaction records at both ends. The money will be there, but there will be nothing to connect us to the robbery."
"He can do that?" asked Fisher.
"Yes he can," confirmed James confidently.
"How much were you thinking of?" asked Abbott, greedily. James had been right; their confidence in him was suddenly restored at the thought of money.
"Oh, I thought about one million eachÖfrom each bank."
Fisher and Abbott smiled appreciatively. Whatever their concerns had been about James, they were clearly willing to put them aside for the time being.
"And youíre sure he can do this?"
"He can and he will. Iíve seen to it that he has no choice."
"Your conversation earlier? Behind closed doors." Fisher emphasised the second half of the sentence to show his disapproval.
"Yes, Iím sorry about that. Shall we just say that he has a sister about whom he cares very much?"
Abbott frowned, "Thereís an evil streak in you, Gabriel that worries me sometimes."
"I havenít done a thing. Can I help it if he thinks I might?"
"So long as he doesnít pull a fast one, GabrielÖor you for that matter," Fisher retorted.
Captain Blue parked the Spectrum Saloon right outside the Mayorís residence.
"Do you think this is enough Ďpresenceí for him?"
"Now, Blue," Grey warned him, "whatís your plan here? To wind him up so that he asks for me instead of you next time?"
"Hey! Thatís a good idea. Thanks, Brad."
Grey shook his head. "Shall we go in?"
On entering the building, the two Spectrum officers were met by a tense looking man who introduced himself immediately.
"Ah, good afternoon, Captains. Iím Gerald Thompson, the Mayorís Personal Aide. Iím guessing, but you would be, what? Captains Blue and Black?"
"Blue and Grey," Captain Blue corrected him politely, noticing the indignant look on Greyís face, clearly unhappy at the honest mistake.
"Grey, Black," Thompson waved his hand dismissively, "whatís the difference?"
"Quite a bit actually!" replied Grey, hotly.
"Anyway, youíre late. The Mayor expected you nearly an hour ago."
"Thatís impossible, Mr Thompson. We only received our final orders forty minutes ago," Blue explained.
"Whatever, weíll be ready to roll in fifteen minutes. Will you be ready?"
"We havenít been given the details of the venue. We were told that everything would be provided for us here, on our arrival. Can you fill us in, Mr Thompson?"
"Whatís to say? Itís only for show. Nobodyís asked you for security or anything. All we want is for you to stand there. Spectrum presence, nothing more."
"You could at least tell us where weíre going, Mr Thompson."
"Look Captains, I donít have time for this, go and speak to one of the secretaries. They should be able to tell you whatever you need to know. Thirteen minutes, Captains. Donít keep the Mayor waiting."
Thompson turned on his heels and swiftly walked down the corridor, away from the two astonished captains.
"What are you thinking?" Blue asked his counterpart as he stared after him.
"Next time, weíre sending Scarlet and Ochre."
Walking over to a desk several feet away, Blue tried to get the attention of the thirty-something year old woman seated with her head down, writing furiously.
"Excuse me maíam?"
"Is this important?" she raised her head impatiently. On seeing Captain Blue, her whole demeanour changed, "Captain, Iím sorry. How can I help you?" She flashed a dazzling smile at him; Blue was quite bowled over by the change. His mind blanked for a moment, and then regaining his composure with a deep breath he asked his question.
"Maíam. Weíre Captains Blue and Grey of Spectrum. Weíre accompanying the Mayor, but we havenít been provided with any details. Can you help?"
"Apparently weíve only got," Grey consulted his watch, "ten minutes."
The young woman, glanced beyond Blue to Grey, her expression changed instantly. She positively glowed when she looked at Blue. With Grey, well to say she was looking straight through him with utter disregard would be putting it kindly. Turning once more to offer Blue her smile, she stood up, smoothing her hair as she did so.
"Captain Blue, Iím Gwen Ashford, assistant secretary to the Mayor. I have an itinerary for the all of the Mayorís appointments today. Iíd be more than happy to let you have a copy."
"Thatís very kind of you, maíam." Blue returned her smile.
As she turned to reach into a draw, Grey nudged Blue in the ribs. "Eight minutes," he reminded with a broad grin.
"What?" asked Blue puzzled.
"I can make myself scarce," Grey spoke quietly.
Blue offered him such a hard stare, that Grey almost dissolved with laughter. Instead he forced himself to turn away and cough; his shoulders shook as he tried to compose himself.
"Is your friend sick?" Gwen asked without much apparent concern.
"Very," replied Blue, with a frown, "but I dare say heíll get over it."
"Will you be returning later, Captain?" she asked as she handed the itinerary to Blue.
"No, maíam, we have to get back to Cloudbase."
"Oh, thatís a shame, Captain."
"Six minutes," Grey continued the countdown, to Miss Ashfordís annoyance.
"Your friend appears to be in a hurry."
"We do have to get going."
"I suppose. Well, if youíre ever passing by, Captain," she smiled again.
"It was a pleasure to meet you, maíam."
Slightly embarrassed, Blue turned to leave. Captain Grey touched the peak of his cap in deference and followed him out.
"And the old New England charm does it again. Shame on you!" Grey chided him.
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, yes, I forgot, only Paul knows. After you." With a sweep of his arm, Grey stood back, smirking as he held the door for Blue as he walked past on the way back to the Spectrum vehicle.
"You know, Grey, sometimesÖ" Blue began.
"Yes, I know." Grey winked mischievously. "But arenít you glad it was me here, and not Scarlet?"
"Why would that be then?" It was unlikely that Blue could have felt more embarrassed by the blatant flirting, even with Scarletís talent for teasing. But he wondered if he could make Grey feel a little awkward himself by asking the very direct question. Did he actually know about him and Symphony, Blue wondered, or was he guessing? Grey was having none of it.
"Why?" he repeated with an incredulous tone, "Dark hair, blue eyes, English accent. You wouldnít have stood a chance there, mate!" he laughed.
The trunk of the car opened. Once again, Magenta found himself in a dimly lit underground car park.
"Is this the same one as before?" he asked, getting out of the cramped space. Thankfully the journey had only taken about fifteen minutes.
"Sorry, Mr Donaghue, I canít tell you."
Magenta folded his arms and shook his head. "Matt, how come you still work for him?"
Riordan shrugged. "We should go upstairs," he muttered.
Magenta frowned; why was Riordan so scared?
"Enough chatter." Jack stepped out of the drivers seat; Simon emerged from the other side of the car.
"Jack," Magenta placed a finger on Jackís chest firmly, "Mr Riordan is not to be spoken to in that way. Do you understand me?"
"I donít know who you thinkÖ"
"Do you understand?" Magenta repeated. His voice was calm and slow. Somehow it was more menacing than if heíd shouted.
"Yes, Sir," replied Jack without meaning to.
"Mr Riordan," Jack now spoke with a more respectful tone, "We should get on."
"Yes," Riordan replied, wishing he didnít have to.
Riordan led the way to an elevator near the centre of the car park. Swiping a card through a slot, a beeping noise signalled for the elevator doors to open. All four men stepped inside and Riordan pressed for the fourth floor. When the elevator door opened, the fourth floor was all in darkness. Jack pushed Magenta out into the deserted corridor.
Nodding to Simon, Jack suddenly dropped his shoulder and ploughed into Magenta from behind, catching him off guard; Magenta crashed into the wall opposite with a startled yell.
"Jack!" shouted Riordan. "What areÖ?" He stopped, surprised to find himself held at gunpoint by Simon.
Magenta turned, squinting as he looked back toward the relatively bright light of the elevator. Keeping low, Jack leapt at him again. Momentarily stunned at the sight of Riordan with Simonís gun pointed at his chest, Magenta didnít see Jack until it was too late. Colliding violently with his right side, just at the base of his ribcage, Magenta was knocked to the floor. Turning quickly, Jack kicked him repeatedly in his left side. Magenta struggled to avoid the blows. For his efforts, his left arm took two vicious kicks and the back of his left thigh also took a nasty blow. Caught between Jack and the wall, there was little he could do.
"Jack, stop!" Riordan yelled from the elevator, as Simon still held him in check. Delivering a final sadistic strike to his head, Jack dropped to Donaghueís side as he reeled from the blow.
"I canít kill you yet, but thatís a taste of things to come, Donaghue."
Magenta let out an agonised groan and passed out. Simon lowered the gun and stepped back, allowing Riordan out of the elevator.
Crouching by Donaghueís side, Riordan felt for a pulse; he sighed with relief when he found it. Surprisingly it was still quite strong, despite the brutal beating. Riordan got to his feet and glared furiously at Jack.
"I just donít believe you did that. What if heíd have died?"
"Well he didnít, yet," Jack snapped. "Youíre showing a little too much concern for him, Mr Riordan. Mr James is disturbed by this."
"Whatís that supposed to mean?"
"Where do your loyalties lie, Mr Riordan?" Jack stared at him coldly. "With him or with Mr James?"
Riordan hesitated. "I donít answer to you."
"Mr Riordan," Simon spoke from behind him, "it would appear that now you do. If you canít satisfy us of your loyalty to Mr James, youíll be staying here too."
"And how can I do that?"
Simon frowned; he didnít know.
"You could break his leg," Jack suggested, smiling cruelly. The remark sounded so casual, yet he truly meant it.
Riordan merely glared. "I donít believe that joining in with your sadistic games is proof of anything. Iíll prove my loyalty by carrying out Mr Jamesí orders and I suggest you do the same. If he has even the remotest difficulty concentrating when he wakes, I imagine that Mr James will not be best pleased. Heís asked us to bring him here to put him to work. His line of work, Jack, takes thought, concentration and intelligence. Now, I donít expect you to understand any of that. But understand this: if ANYTHING goes wrong with the job Mr James wants him to do and itís even possibly as a result of this beating, then I wouldnít want to be you."
"Yeah, well, he asked for it," replied Jack nervously.
"Well just remember, so did you."
Magenta ached, his head pounded, he hadnít felt this bad for a long time. The room was lit, not brightly, but enough to see. That would be useful, if he could only focus, he thought. He moved his right hand to his head; something rattled, a sort of deep clinking noise nearby. Whatís that? he thought, his mind and vision still very hazy. He rubbed his eyes. Something clinked again. The room started to move into focus; he tried to sit up and immediately fell back down again, groaning as the room span. Closing his eyes tightly, he moved both hands to his face. The clinking was louder now.
"What is that?" he murmured to himself.
Moving his hands away from his face, he tried to sit again, this time with more success. He looked about. Sufficiently recovered, he took in his surroundings. So this was the Ďofficeí, he thought with a sigh. Basically, it was a cell, a comfortable one, granted, but the heavy steel door left him in no doubts about his current position. James held him as an unwilling guest in a quite luxurious prison. It wasnít just the door that gave away the true situation, he thought as he looked down and finally spied the chains about his wrists. Following the links to the wall behind the bed, he saw that it was a long chain; it probably allowed him to roam the whole room unrestricted, but he guessed it fell short of the distance to the door. The single chain, fastened to the wall by a sturdy bracket, split into two about three feet from his wrists, again reasonably long lengths, which would allow him to drop his hands to his sides comfortably. He realised, that apart from preventing him leaving the room, which, in truth, the steel door managed quite adequately on its own, the chainsí only purpose seemed to be to demoralize him. It was working too.
Magenta raised his left arm, his watch had been removed, and he had no idea of the time, or how long heíd been unconscious. He checked around the room and was quite taken aback to find some of his own clothes in the draws and cupboards. When Gabriel had ordered his hotel room searched, heíd obviously had this in mind at the time. Magenta wondered what other surprises heíd get and how much of what Gabriel had said had been pre-fabricated lies?
As he closed the wardrobe door, he heard the bolts on the steel door being shunted back. Slowly it was opened and Matt Riordan peered into the room.
"Youíre up then?" he said with a relieved smile.
Magenta couldnít help but notice that Riordan was wearing different clothes from the last time he saw him.
"Yeah," Magenta was relieved himself to find Riordan had come alone. "How long was I out?"
"I canít say."
"Well, what time is it now?"
"No, you donít understand. Mr James doesnít want you to know."
"Well heís in for a bit of a surprise then isnít he?"
"What do you mean?"
"He wants me to do a job for him, presumably some sort of computer fraud or robbery? If I donít know what time it is, and I mean exactly what time it is, I could end up tripping all kinds of alarms. But well, he knows best." Magenta shrugged, sitting back down on the bed.
Without a word, Riordan reached into his jacket pocket and produced Donaghueís watch, handing it to him with a slight smile.
"Thanks," Magenta accepted it. Gazing for a few moments at the face, he was surprised to see that it read twenty past eight. Looking back up at Riordan with a puzzled expression, he continued: "Itís morning?"
"Yeah, I was getting worried. But then I thought you were probably tired too, so youíve actually slept."
Magenta felt his chin; the emerging stubble would have given it away anyway. Leaning back against the headboard, Magenta presented his shackled hands.
"Whatís this about, Matt?" he asked allowing them to rest back down on his legs.
"Iím sorry, Mr Donaghue," Riordan hung his head.
"He really doesnít trust me does he? I mean, isnít it enough just locking me in here?"
Riordan sighed. "Itís me he doesnít trust."
"You?" Magenta was surprised at what he heard.
"He doesnít trust me not to let you go. I can open the door, but thatís it."
"He doesnít miss a thing, does he?" Magenta grumbled angrily.
"Oh, yes, he does." Riordan sat down on the side of the bed. "He didnít see Abbott and Fisher moving in until it was too late." He allowed himself a small laugh. "Ironic really, it was through them he got the business. I think they probably planned this all along, but he didnít see it."
"But heís trying to use me to hold them off?"
Riordan nodded gravely. "Youíve got to get out of here somehow, Mr Donaghue. I know what heís planning, and whatever happens, I believe that heíll probably kill you too. Youíre too much of a threat to him."
"What do you mean, heíll kill me too? Who else has he killed?"
Riordan appeared perplexed. "Mr Brunton," he replied, "but I told you."
"No you didnít. You said he was dead, in fact you didnít even say that much. Gabriel said he was dead, but he also said he didnít know how."
"Huh!" Riordan snorted with contempt. "He knows alright!"
"What did he do, Matt?"
Riordan glanced over at Donaghue, for the first time realising that he was talking to the man who had been Michael Bruntonís closest friend. The man had been cold-bloodedly murdered, how could he tell him? His hesitation made Magenta uneasy; he felt instinctively that this was something he didnít want to hear.
"What did he do?" he repeated.
"He shot him," Riordan replied avoiding Donaghueís searching gaze.
"What arenít you telling me?"
Riordan remained staring down at his hands. Magenta grabbed his right shoulder and turned him, forcing him to look up. Magentaís eyes widened at the pained and pitiful expression he found as he looked at Riordan.
"He was my best friend, Matt. Iím sorry, but I have to know."
Riordan swallowed hard and took a deep breath. There was a catch in his breath as he drew a second, deeper gulp of air. He shook his head and sighed.
"It was shortly after you disappeared. No one knew what had happened. It was all over the papers, Commander Fraser was dead, and you had disappeared. People were drawing their own conclusions." Riordan stopped suddenly, and licked his dry lips. "You didnít kill him though, did you?" briefly he seemed unsure.
"No, Matt, I didnít."
"Mr James had made no secret of the fact that he wanted to take over. He resented the way everyone automatically looked to Mr Brunton. Anyway," Riordanís voice shook slightly, "to cut a long story short, Fisher and Abbott offered their support to Mr James in a takeover. He couldnít see the problems it would cause, the rifts. He wanted everything. He concocted some tale about Mr Brunton being an insider, working for the World Government Police Corps. He ran a sham trial for him, real old style Mob tactics." Riordanís voice tapered off again.
"What happened, Matt?"
"He, Mr James, heÖ" Riordanís body shook as he took in a long quivering breath and closed his eyes. "He executed him."
"What?" Magenta gasped in horror and disbelief. "How do you know this, for sure, I mean?"
Riordan turned to Donaghue with the most sorrowful expression he had ever seen; the pain and fear etched on his face cut deep into Magentaís heart. The tension in the room was palpable.
"Because itís a sight that will haunt me till I die."
Magenta closed his eyes in realisation. He clasped his hands until his knuckles turned white, his fingernails dug deep into his palms.
"How?" he asked simply, opening his eyes.
"Please, Mr Donaghue." Riordan was visibly shaking; he did not want to recall this memory.
"Tell me!" Magenta barked. He paused and his voice softened. "Please."
"In the car park under the building of your old office. Mr James had Mr Brunton on his knees, handcuffed." Riordanís throat tightened with the emotion of the memory; it was difficult to speak, the pain from his throat almost as acute as that of the memory itself. "He put a bullet into his brain. Right there in front of us!" Riordan shook his head and looked down again covering his eyes with his left hand. He forced his hand upwards through his hair. "Iím sorry, Mr Donaghue! We didnít stop him, but I donít think anyone really believed he would do it. Fisher told us weíd be next if we didnít play ballÖ"
"He was there?" asked Magenta aghast.
"They both were, him and Abbott."
"And whoís Ďweí? Who did they threaten?"
"Me, John, WilliamÖthe gang, you know, the six of us." The distraught Riordan was referring to the original six members of the mob syndicate before the expansion under Donaghueís leadership.
"Where are they now?"
"Iím the only one left. William and Guy are in prison; they actually gave themselves up. At least theyíre still alive."
"And the others?"
"I donít know," Riordan took a deep breath as he started once again to compose himself. "They just disappeared."
"But he needs you, thatís why youíre still alive?"
Riordan nodded. "Since you disappeared, Iím the only one who knows how to operate your computers. Iíve managed to keep the passwords secret, Iím sure thatís the only reason Iím still around."
"Iím so sorry, Matt. Now I understand why youíre so scared of him. I take it that Fisher and Abbott donít know what happened to the guys either?"
"I doubt it, they seemed concerned at the time, some of their own men disappeared too."
"And thatís where I came in, to take the blame?"
"Yeah, Mr James couldnít believe his luck when he heard you were still alive and where to find you. He was practically giddy."
"Somebody recognised me?"
"No, he got a call. I donít know who from; I donít think he knows who it was. Just some guy rings him and tells him where he can find you."
Magenta frowned; it was obvious that he too had no clue as to the identity of the mysterious informer.
"You say youíve still got my computers?"
"Yes, but Iím to get you a new one. Theyíre over three years old now, a little behind the times."
"Not the one Iím thinking of."
"Oh, yes. Iíve got that safe. Even Mr James doesnít know about that."
"Good, letís keep it that way. I need it, Matt."
"What use is it here?"
"IíveÖerÖgot a couple of calls I want to make."
"Is there anything else?"
"Yes, get Sarah to Spectrum."
"Look, I know it sounds odd. But if you had to put your life in someoneís hands, would it be the local police or Spectrum?"
Riordan nodded, "Iíll see sheís alright."
"Simon will be here in a little while."
Magenta frowned. "What does he want?"
"Heís got the key to your chains. Heíll be taking them off so you can take a shower and get changed."
"Good. Thanks Matt," Magenta said again. "Donít forget about Sarah."
"I wonít, MrÖ"
"And will you PLEASE call me Pat?"
"I canít do that, Mr Donaghue."
"Well, youíre, I meanÖYou were my boss." Riordan couldnít quite say what he wanted.
"Iím your friend, Matt. Iíll sort this mess out, I promise. Now, call me Pat. If Gabriel can use my first name, Iím sure you can!"
"He always uses everyoneís full first name."
"Thatís my fault. I told him four years ago that only my friends can call me Pat and that he was not my friend. He started calling me Patrick. Probably because he couldnít bring himself to say ĎMrí and I wasnít going to accept him just saying Donaghue. So to cover it up, he started using everyoneís full name, passing it off as a gimmick. I donít care, so long as he never calls me Pat."
"What did he do to deserve that?"
Magenta shook his head. "Another time, maybe."
"Iíll go sort out those things for you then, MrÖsorry, Pat." Riordan smiled as he left closing and locking the door behind him.
Magenta returned the smile, but it was short-lived. He had to figure out some way to get them both out of this mess.
As the motorcade moved off, Captain Blue swung the Spectrum saloon into position behind the Mayorís car. The Mayor always travelled with his own security team and the entire procession was also being escorted by the New York Police.
"Iíve seen armoured tank manoeuvres less defended." Grey shook his head. "Whatís his speech about anyway?"
"Check the itinerary," Blue suggested.
Grey picked up the paper and glanced down it. "Doesnít say much."
"Shouldnít think he will either," laughed Blue.
"Well heís going on for two hours, whatever it is. While we stand there, looking decorative!"
"I know, but it has to be better than kicking our heels around Cloudbase."
"True," replied Grey nodding.
The procession headed down Third Avenue towards World Government House where the Mayor would give his speech. Unknown to the two Spectrum captains in the red saloon, above them in one of the many buildings they passed along their route, their friend and fellow captain was working frantically to pick the locks on the chains about his wrists.
Reaching their destination a few minutes later, Blue and Grey stepped out of the car and immediately flanked the Mayor. Automatically, they had surveyed the area for any potential threats and had released the safety catches on their pistols. On entering the building, they were still unable to relax, checking around for possible hiding places and anything or anyone suspicious. Despite the buildingís grand title, it was little more than an office block with impressive conference facilities. Given the Mayorís taste for security, the Spectrum officers had been surprised that he had not chosen to deliver his speech at the rebuilt and improved Maximum Security Building.
The small group, consisting of the Mayor, his Aide, four of the Mayorís personal security personnel and the two Spectrum officers, headed down a long corridor leading to the conference facilities. Stopping at a door simply labelled E4, the lead security guard opened it and waited patiently while the rest of the party entered. It was a large comfortable lounge, apparently prepared specifically for speakers and delegates to relax and prepare. Everything should be fine in here at least, thought Blue.
"Right then, Captains," Thompson, the Mayorís Aide, addressed them, "if youíd be so kind as to hand over your weapons."
"Excuse me?" Grey was incredulous.
"Iím sorry, Mr Mayor, Mr Thompson," Blue replied to them both out of deference, "I donít think you understand, we may not be here to specifically provide security, be we wonít go unarmed. Weíre not here to be decorative," Blue continued, remembering Greyís phrase from earlier.
"No, Captain," Thompson paused, during which time both Blue and Grey felt the cold muzzle of a gun pressed against their necks. "I think itís you who doesnít understand."
"Whatís going on here?" Blue shouted furiously as he felt his gun removed from its holster. Similarly the security guard behind him took Greyís pistol.
"Iíd have thought that was obvious," Thompson continued as both Blue and Greyís caps were removed. "Put your hands behind your backs."
With four guns pointed directly at them and themselves now defenceless, Blue and Grey had little choice but to obey, but they still didnít understand why.
"Mr Mayor!" Grey protested, as he and Blue were handcuffed. "What are you doing?"
Suddenly both men knew exactly why the Maximum Security Building had gone unused. It had been fitted out with Mysteron detectors, they would never have got past reception, but here they could walk in freely, unchallenged. Blue and Grey were forced into the corner of the room furthest from the door and made to sit on the floor.
"Now I know why you didnít want Captain Scarlet anywhere near you. He would have sensed a houseful of Mysterons a mile off."
"Almost correct, Captain Blue. Only the six of us, not the entire household. It was, however, very agreeable of you to reduce your numbers for us by bringing Captain Grey along. With Magenta incapacitated, we now only have Scarlet and Ochre to worry about."
The news was as surprising as it was unwelcome. They had been utterly unaware of Magentaís problems over the previous day.
"What have you done with Captain Magenta?" asked Grey in a concerned and urgent tone.
"Letís just say that, thanks to our information, some old friends have caught up with him. Anyway, we were, of course aware that had you been on any sort of alert, that you would not be here now. We have been very quiet, have we not? And until he fails to report, you would have no idea of MagentaísÖdifficulties. But now that we have you, we can announce our intentions."
Using the buckle pin of his watch, Magenta was having some success picking the locks on the chains; he had never been any good at this, right from the moment Rhapsody had first mentioned it. She seemed to be a natural, even Ochre had been impressed. Magenta had practised long and hard at it to get even this good, ever since that humiliating episode. He had decided that must never happen again.
"I donít believe you! Itís just not possible."
"It is, Rick. Ask the Colonel," Rhapsody insisted.
"Well, you have to admit," said Magenta hesitantly, "it sounds a little unlikely."
"Do you have any on you?" she asked, her hands on her hips in an expression of her indignation at their disbelief.
"Er, well, no. No, I donít," admitted Magenta.
"I do!" Ochre added enthusiastically.
Rhapsody smiled at him, eyebrows raised. "Old habits die hard, Rick?"
"Something like that," Rick smiled back as he held out the handcuffs to Magenta.
"Iím not sureÖthis is weird. Iím not sure IÖ"
"Oh, come on, Pat." Ochre grabbed Magentaís hand and pressed the handcuffs into his palm.
Rhapsody turned her back on him and offered her hands behind her.
"Well, IÖuh, never did this before. I mean youíre a ladyÖ" The normally articulate Magenta, struggled to find the words.
"Oh Pat!" Rhapsody laughed.
"Come on, Pat, I want to see this."
"Those arenít magnetic locks are they, Rick?" asked Rhapsody, suddenly wary at their Joker in the Packís enthusiasm.
"No, no, regular locks. I just want to see this."
"Okay," murmured Magenta, uneasily. He gently closed the handcuffs around Rhapsodyís slender wrists and she turned to face him.
"Donít let Paul know youíve done that, Pat. He wonít be very happy."
Both Rhapsody and Magenta blushed. Neither Rhapsody nor Scarlet seemed aware that their secret had become as open as Blue and Symphonyís. Rhapsody was momentarily distracted by Ochreís gentle teasing, but Magenta seemed genuinely mortified. It had been difficult enough for them to convince him that this was a good idea without making a comment like that.
"I wonít tell him, Pat. Donít you worry." Ochre slapped Magentaís back playfully, then turned to Rhapsody. "So how long will it take toÖ?"
Rhapsody held out the handcuffs to him, with a smile and a raised eyebrow.
"What? How did you do that? Did you put them on properly, Pat?"
"Rick! I know how to put handcuffs on."
"Even on a lady?" Ochre countered.
Tired of waiting for Ochre to take back the handcuffs, Rhapsody considered another option. She snapped one half of the handcuffs around the nearest hand to her.
"Hey!" cried Magenta. "What are you doing?"
Ochre grinned. It had been a long time since the last practical joke, now Rhapsody had led the way and he couldnít refuse a lady, could he? Grabbing Magentaís right arm with his left he used his right hand to push him backwards into the chair less than two feet from where he stood. Taken by surprise and unable to pull away from Rhapsody without risking hurting her, there was little Magenta could do.
"Whatever it is, no!" he shouted as he fought against Ochreís grip.
Rhapsody, taking advantage of Magentaís gentlemanly refusal to risk hurting her, pulled his left arm behind the chair. Pulling down to the level of the seat support, she looped the free end of the handcuffs underneath and held firm; thus disabling his left arm.
"Hey, thatís not fair!" Magenta continued to struggle. Ochre, whilst not letting go, couldnít keep him still.
"Stop making such a racket, Pat," Rhapsody chided him.
"Let me go then!"
Rhapsody had to distract him somehow; his noise was going to attract the attention of the entire base soon. Leaning around, she planted a kiss on his left cheek. Momentarily dumbfounded and embarrassed by her action, Magenta froze. Ochre took advantage and swung his arm around behind the chair. With a satisfied sigh, Rhapsody closed the handcuffs on Magentaís right wrist.
"Now," Rhapsody said standing up, "get free."
"Get free? I can barely move. You just had your hands behind you, Iím fastened to the chair," Magenta complained.
"Well, you shouldnít have made such a fuss, should you?" Rhapsody replied.
"Plus, I havenít a clue what you did."
"Youíve got to learn this, though, Pat. You may need it one day."
Ochre spoke prophetically, but at that moment, all Magenta was aware of was the acute embarrassment of being handcuffed to a chair in the Officersí Lounge.
"Well, Iíve got to get back to the Amber Room," Rhapsody announced.
"Yes, and youíre on radar duty, Pat. ButÖI guess Iíd better fill in for you."
"Rick, youíre not serious? Let me go!"
Ochre and Rhapsody turned to leave for their respective posts. Magenta couldnít believe theyíd leave him like that. What if someone were to walk in? Or worse, he thought, what if nobody walked in? Heíd be stuck there all afternoon.
The door closed behind them. Even out in the corridor, he could hear their laughter as they walked away.
Magenta snapped out of the memory as the second of the two locks came undone in his hands. He made a mental note to thank Rhapsody and possibly Ochre for the experience, without which heíd still be chained to the wall. Not a moment too soon, he thought, as he heard one of the bolts being pushed back on the door. Draping the chains over his wrists to give the impression that nothing had changed, Magenta waited, seated on the bed, as the door opened.
This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen. We have not forgotten your act of aggression on our Complex on Mars. Our next step in our retaliation will be to decimate The Eastern Seaboard of North America. We will be avenged!
The booming, inhuman voice cut in on every channel across the whole of the base. There couldnít have been a soul who hadnít heard it. This one was more obvious, they believed. Ochre and Scarlet were already making their way to the Control Room when Lieutenant Green sent the base into yellow alert.
Now seated in front of Colonel Whiteís desk, they awaited their orders. White addressed them, with a grave expression on his face.
"Captains, as you know, direct threats from the Mysterons such as this are rare indeed. We cannot afford to remain in our current position and must move Cloudbase to a position over the Atlantic Ocean. As you know, Captains Blue, Grey and Magenta are all in America at the moment, indeed in cities along the Eastern Seaboard, and we must be in a position to receive them as soon as possible. Captain Magenta is due to return from his furlough and Symphony Angel is at Logan International Airport to collect him now. Captains Blue and Grey are on a non-essential assignment at the moment. Lieutenant, have you been able to contact them yet?"
"No, Colonel, not yet. Itís veryÖwait, I have Captain Blue."
"Colonel!" Captain Blueís voice sounded tense and brusque. "Weíre under attack. The whole building is swarming with Mysterons. The Mayorís with me, some of the guards are dead, Greyís injured. We need back up, urgently!"
The radio went dead; no more communication seemed possible. Ochre and Scarlet looked expectantly at their superior, awaiting the order to assist their colleagues. It didnít come.
"Colonel, theyíre on their own down there," Scarlet pointed out.
"I donít believe that was Captain Blue. An emergency mission codeword was agreed in advance. Such a communication would have been preceded by that word. I believe it is a Mysteron trick."
"I understand that, Colonel," replied Scarlet. "Iíve been on the receiving end of just such a deception. But nevertheless, they were talking through Blueís radiocap. If they have that, then Blue and Grey must still be in danger."
"I know that, Captain, but I donít want either of you walking straight into enemy hands at the very moment they call. Iíd prefer to wait a while, to confuse them. We donít need to rush to give them what they want."
"But, Colonel, if Blue and Grey are in the Mysteronís hands, we canít justÖ"
The radio cut off Captain Ochre as he argued with Colonel White. It was Symphony.
"Symphony Angel to Cloudbase."
"Go ahead Symphony," replied Lieutenant Green.
"Captain Magenta is half an hour late returning from his furlough. I wouldnít normally be worried, but heís usually early and with the current threatÖ"
"Of course, Symphony. Stand by, await further instructions, report if he arrives."
White frowned; this was all he needed right now. What a moment for Magenta to be late. Lieutenant Green was concerned. Knowing all too well that Magenta was habitually punctual, he started to check the databanks available to him, whilst White continued.
"Put yourselves in their position, Captains. If it were you down there right now, wouldnít you be hoping that someone had seen through the trick, for the trap that it is?"
Scarlet and Ochre knew he was right but still, their friends could well be in mortal danger, it was hard to step back from that thought.
"Colonel!" Green called from his position at the main Computer, "I think Iíve found something."
"Sir, the hotel Captain Magenta is staying in. Theyíve reported a break in, in a room booked in the name of Mr P Donaghue. The police have been called this morning; the report says itís been ransacked and heís not been seen since yesterday."
Scarlet and Ochre looked bleakly at Colonel White. His expression mirrored theirs; he honestly felt that Scarlet and Ochre would be walking into a trap, but with three missing officers, there seemed little choice but to let them try to rescue Blue and Grey. Perhaps by doing so, they could avert the crisis.
"Very well," he sighed. "But be careful. Remember theyíre expecting you."
They were indeed. The Mayor lowered Blueís radiocap and laughed as he glanced down at the Spectrum officers, now gagged, to prevent them from shouting a warning.
"You cannot stop us, Earthmen."
Magenta watched as the door opened. Simon entered the room apparently alone. Closing the door behind him, he reached into his pocket and drew out the key to the chainsí locks. Magenta silently looked up at him as he approached.
"I trust you slept well?" Simon asked.
"I was kicked until I passed out. How do you think I slept?"
Simon frowned. "You wind Jack up, Mr Donaghue. Just donít do that and itíll be a lot easier for you."
"Do you have any idea who I am, Simon?"
"From what was said at Mr Riordanís apartment, Iíd say you were Mr Jamesí predecessor."
"Thatís right, doesnít that count for anything?"
"It might if you hadnít killed or had our guys jailed."
"And you believe that?"
"Itís not for meÖ"
"Do you believe it?" Magenta asked again.
Simon hesitated. "I do what Iím told to do."
"And what have youíve been told to do?"
"Right now? To release you so you can take a shower. Once youíre done, they go back on."
"Well, Simon, do your job."
As Simon approached, he should have been aware that something was wrong, but he didnít realise it until it was too late. Magenta barrelled into him, knocking him backwards against the wardrobe. Unarmed and considerably shorter and lighter than Magenta, Simon was at a distinct disadvantage. Magenta grabbed his arm and threw him onto the bed. Twisting Simonís arm behind him, Magenta pushed him further down onto the bed.
"Now, I want some answers. If you didnít know who I am before last night, how did you know where to find me?"
"Mr James gave us a photo and an address."
"How did he know?"
"I donít know."
Magenta turned his arm further up his back.
"I donít know!" Simon shouted, in pain. "Mr James doesnít discuss stuff with us. Only with Mr Abbott and Mr Fisher."
"What about Mr Riordan?"
"Mr James doesnít trust him. He tells him what he needs to know, nothing more."
"I thought he didnít discuss things with you? How do you know that?"
"He asked us to keep an eye on him. Heís why you were chained up; Mr James thinks heíd let you go."
Magenta sighed; it tied in with what heíd been told so far. He felt bad checking up on Matt, but heíd been lied to so much over the previous twenty-four hours, he could barely keep up.
"So, where are we now?"
"Thatís enough information for now, Patrick. Let him go."
Magenta looked up; he saw James stood just inside the doorway, his gun pointed directly at him. Taking a deep breath, Magenta released Simonís arm and took a step back from the bed.
"You let him get the better of you, Simon?"
Simon rolled and stood up, cradling his left arm. "Iím sorry, Mr James, he was already free of the chains before I came in, I wasnít expecting him to attack me."
"Have you learnt a new skill then, Patrick? My, they taught you well in de Wittís."
"What do you want, Gabriel?"
"Simon, do the installation, then get the handcuffs. Patrick, I have a delivery for you and your instructions."
Magenta watched as Simon, still rubbing his shoulder, left the room; so now he was going to be handcuffed! Behind James, Magenta could see a state-of-the-art computer being installed, which, he thought, would not look out of place in the Spectrum Information Centre. James continued:
"I have three account numbers here; you will move one million dollars from the reserves of every bank in the State into each of these accounts. And then you will remove all trace of the transactions at either end."
"Iím not going to do that! Do you know how difficult that is?"
"You are going to do it and I donít care how difficult it is. Youíll do it and youíll do it carefully too. Remember, Sarah is counting on you."
"I donít believe you."
"Patrick, I donít bluff." James reached into his pocket and drew out a phone. "Here, call her."
Magenta caught the phone as it was tossed to him. Dialling the familiar number he waited, with baited breath, for the reply.
"Sarah, itís Pat. Are you okay?" he asked nervously.
"Oh Pat! Please helpÖ"
The phone was snatched away from her and a manís voice came on the line.
"Just do what youíre told, Donaghue, and thereís no reason for her to be hurt."
"If you even so much as touch her, Iíll kill you," Magenta seethed.
"You wonít get the chance, remember? I already promised to kill you myself."
"Jack!" Magenta exclaimed in surprise, he hadnít recognised the voice over the phone. "I swear, if you harm her, Iíll tear you apart. Let me speak to her again."
"I donít think so."
"Put her back on!" Magenta yelled so loudly, Sarah could hear him from several feet away.
Jack, his ear still stinging from the sudden increase in volume, handed the phone to Sarah.
"Pat?" she asked timidly.
"Sarah, donít be afraid. Do anything he says. Iíll sort this out, I promise. If he hurts you in any way, and I mean any way, Iíll kill him."
"Pat, I donít understand, I thoughtÖ"
"Donít worry. I promise, itíll be okay. Trust me. Donít say anything to him, donít give him any excuse to hurt you."
The phone went dead, Magenta closed his eyes, gripping the phone so tightly it was a wonder it didnít break in his hands.
"So you see, Patrick. You really have no choice."
Magenta hurled the phone back at James, who caught it without flinching.
"Okay, Iíll do it. But when I get the chance, Iím going to finish you, Gabriel."
"Youíre going to kill me, Patrick?"
"No, Gabriel, Iíll do worse than that. Youíll be begging me to kill you."
Donaghue and James stared at each other, barely contained, deep-rooted hatred bubbling to the surface.
"You brought them?"
"Yes, Mr James."
"Put them on."
"Yes, Sir." Simon approached Donaghue cautiously. From his pocket he withdrew a pair of Spectrum issue magnetic lock handcuffs; the tiny rainbow insignia was unmistakable.
"Spectrum handcuffs? Where did you get them from?"
"Letís just say, I have my sources."
"Got someone from Spectrum on your payroll, Gabriel? No wonder you had no problem getting rid of all those men, with no comeback!"
Gabriel merely smiled. Magenta grimaced, hoping that if it were true, he wouldnít meet the person. It was more than possible that he would be recognised.
Simon turned to James.
"Pay no attention, Simon."
"What about his shower, Mr James?"
"Yeah, Gabriel, I canít get changed wearing handcuffs, can I?"
"Very well." James frowned. "Iím not about to treat my guests poorly. Simon, come back in half an hour. If you canít see Mr Donaghue through the spy hole, donít enter, and carry a gun next time. Youíd better get on with your task, Patrick. You have seven hours, I want this all sorted out. If not, you wonít see Sarah again. Oh, and donít try to escape again. Weíll be moving Sarah to a safer location. Youíve no idea where sheís going to be held, but you do know how trigger-happy Jack is."
Magenta was left alone, locked in the room. He had known that James was ruthless and self-seeking, but now with his back to the wall, trying to keep a Syndicate take-over at bay, Magenta was seeing perhaps the very darkest side of his nature. It was pure malice.
Captain Blue glanced at Grey. There was nothing they could do. Seated on the floor in the far corner of the lounge with two guns trained on them, handcuffed and gagged, inwardly they cursed themselves for having walked straight into this so blindly. Thompson cast them a brief glance, they seemed to be behaving themselves, he thought, perhaps they didnít realise that they would die soon.
"Sir," he spoke, looking at his watch, "itís time to go."
Mayor Coleman nodded. "Gentlemen," he addressed the two Spectrum captains, "itís time to leave. But before we go, Iím sure youíll want to know what we have in store for you. Following the coast, approximately one mile out to sea is a line of atomic devices. We will be taking a yacht out to detonate the first of the line. It will start a chain reaction, detonating the others one by one. As each device explodes the cumulative effect will create the largest tidal wave in history. It will race across the Eastern Seaboard, crushing and killing everything in its path. We have called Cloudbase using your own voice. We know they may not believe it to be you calling for help, but Scarlet and Ochre will come and they will die too." He laughed, "And we will have disposed of all five senior Cloudbase Captains in the process. Not a bad days work, I think youíll agree. Now, on your feet."
Blue and Grey were dragged to their feet by the Mayorís guards. Two guards flanked each Spectrum captain. The guards each looped an arm through the arms of their respective hostage, thus pulling the captainsí arms outwards, tightening the bite of the handcuffs around their wrists. Each guard held a gun with his free hand, which was pushed firmly, but not painfully, below the jaw. Unable to struggle or even to look to the left or right, due to the guns pressed into either side of their necks, Blue and Grey were forced toward the door.
It was traditional for the Mayor to hold a mini press conference before giving a speech. The press and media had already gathered in the lobby, but none could have guessed about the dramatic events, which were about to unfold.
Talking ceased and the press readied themselves for interviews, as they saw the Mayor and his entourage heading toward them, for what they still believed would be a pre-speech press conference. It was not until they saw the two Spectrum officers apparently bound and gagged and held at gunpoint, did they realise that today would offer a news sensation. As they walked, cameras flashed, film rolled and one enterprising reporter approached the group.
"Mr Mayor. Whatís the story here?" he asked.
Blue turned his eyes to him, alarmed at his stupidity. Didnít he understand? The Mayor was a Mysteron. He had overpowered two armed Spectrum officers with the minimum of effort; he had planned the destruction of the Eastern Seaboard. Now, he was presented with a man - a hated human - asking a ridiculous question. Blueís fears became a reality when the guard to his left lowered the gun and aimed directly at the reporter. Blue tried his best to cry out a warning from beneath the gag. Even if it had been discernable, he was too late. The guard felled the reporter in front of everyone. At once enraged and dismayed by the action, Blue struggled in their two-armed grip. The remaining pistol was forced deeper into Blueís neck, hurting him, and the grip, which had never relaxed, held him firm. Returning the still smoking gun to point at Blue, the guard urged him to be still. He had little choice.
Stopping for a brief moment, the Mayor turned to the stunned Pressmen. "Weíll see you at the harbour, gentlemen."
Proceeding toward the main doors to the building, the group continued to be photographed by the press. Both captains were utterly at a loss to comprehend how they could carry on following the murder of their colleague. Even now, many were on the phone to their respective offices arranging additional coverage. Forced outside toward two waiting limousines, Blue and Grey were separated and pushed into the backseats of each of the two vehicles.
Shoved into the back of the lead car, Grey pulled his shoulder away from the guard pushing him, glaring at him angrily.
"Donít be so quick to lose your temper, Captain." Thompson mocked him, taking a seat opposite him in the spacious interior of the car. "There will be plenty of opportunities for you to die later. You donít really want to be killed so soon, do you?"
As the cars moved off, Thompson leaned forward and pulled away the tape covering Greyís mouth.
"Youíre pure evil!" Grey snapped; incensed by what he had just witnessed. "Why did you have to kill that reporter?"
"What does it matter?" Thompson replied casually. "Youíll all be dead within the hour, anyway."
"I wouldnít bet on that!"
The Mysteron smiled and sighed, taking on an amused tone as he spoke. "Youíre going to stop us then, Captain Grey?"
"Donít write us off just yet!" Grey replied defiantly.
The Mysteronised Aide laughed quietly to himself. Then without warning, swung the back of a part clenched fist across Greyís face, wrenching his head to the left as he made impact.
His bottom lip cut and swelling, his cheek starting to bruise, Grey swiftly regained his composure, his eyes blazing with fury as he once more raised his head to glare at the Aide.
"And you, Captain, should not underestimate us." Once more, Thompson swung a fist at Grey.
Behind, in the second car, Captain Blue witnessed the cruel treatment Grey was suffering. His gag removed, as Greyís had been, Blue lost no time in objecting.
"Hey! Whatís he doing? Leave him alone."
The Mayor offered Blue an amused smile. "He always did have a violent streak in him."
"Tell him to leave him alone!" cried Blue angrily, as he watched the attack on Grey escalate.
The Mayor expression glazed and he appeared as if in a trance for a few moments. Snapping out of this state after only a few moments, Blue was surprised to see Thompson in the car in front suddenly laugh.
"Your friend wants me to stop hitting you."
Grey turned to look at him, his lip cut and swollen; above his left eyebrow a cut oozed blood that trickled down his cheek. Grey was silent; what could he say? The Mysteron could do whatever he pleased; there was nothing to stop him. His silence only seemed to annoy Thompson all the more. Raising his left hand this time, he swung a cruel backhander across Greyís left cheek.
Blue was beside himself with worry. He watched as Greyís head fell forward and remained there. It was sheer torture for him to see his friend so brutally beaten, only yards from where he sat, and yet be so utterly powerless to act.
"Please, make him stop!" Blue begged as he saw a clenched fist raised above Grey once more. Blue pulled frantically against the grip of the two guards, to no avail. He watched as Thompson finally lowered the raised fist. Grabbing Grey under the chin and pushing upwards, Thompson took a closer look at the state heíd now left him. Still conscious, but barely, Grey was aware of this head being pushed to the left Leaning backwards with a disgruntled sigh, Thompson watched as Grey gathered his senses. He raised his cut and bruised head once more. Coughing, he frowned, as he tasted the blood in his mouth.
"You can thank your colleague," began the Aide, "and mine," he added with distaste, "that youíre still alive."
Grey was livid; he wanted nothing more than to retaliate. His hands may be restrained, he thought, but his legs certainly werenít. Thompson was in an ideal position to take the full force of a Spectrum service boot right in the face. But what then? With two guns still on him, and also on Blue, he believed he knew the answer. For now, he must gather his strength. Should an opportunity arise later, he had to be ready.
Riordan pushed back the bolts to Magentaís cell and gently pushed the door open. Magenta spoke without even looking up. "Youíre early."
"What do you mean?"
Magenta turned. "Matt, I thought you were Simon."
"Oh," Riordan replied, non-committal. "I see they took your chains off."
"No, that was me. Thatís why Simonís coming back."
Riordan raised his eyebrows. He didnít have time to ask how heíd managed to remove the chains, or why Simon was coming back rather than put them back on earlier. "Then Iíd better be quick. Here." From his coat pocket, Riordan drew out a small hand held computer, roughly eight inches long by five inches wide.
Magenta eyed the portable computer with a look that came close to affection. Heíd built it himself, he was very proud of both it and himself.
"Thanks, Matt. Youíve got the other one, right?"
Riordan nodded and patted another pocket. Within it lay a second computer, smaller again than the first, designed purely for relaying messages.
"I canít stay anyway, Iím off to Sarahís place now."
Magenta frowned, "Matt, Jackís already there. Gabriel said they were going to move her to a safer location. If you get there quick, you might catch him before he takes her to wherever it is."
"Iíll do what I can."
"I appreciate this, Matt. I really do."
Riordan summoned all his courage, "Iíll make sure sheís okay. Youíd do the same for me."
Riordan turned back; he was almost at the door. "Yes?"
"Where am I?"
Riordan had expected the awkward question; he was amazed it hadnít come up already.
"I just want to know."
"Best that you donít really."
"Why?" asked Magenta, wondering why Matt wouldnít tell him.
"Oh, do you have to know why? Canít you guess?"
"Why?" Magenta repeated, puzzled by his sudden nervousness.
"Well, this is hardly a regular office block is it? What if the police, or worse, Spectrum did get hold of you. If they found out about this place, and the things that go on hereÖweíll all be in de Wittís with you!"
"Fair enough." Magenta sighed frustrated. He had to find out where he was, somehow. Heíd been certain that Matt would tell him, but evidently, it wouldnít be that easy.
"Iíd better go."
"Give Sarah a hug from me."
"Sure," Riordan smiled, reassuringly and left, bolting the door behind him.
Magenta turned back to the screen, he had a lot to do. He had in fact two jobs to complete in a very short time; neither of them being the task he had been asked to perform. The first and most important was to alert Spectrum. It had to be done discreetly; he had no doubt that his programming was being monitored, possibly even by Riordan. It shouldnít be too difficult to cover his tracks with most people, but Matt was pretty good with a computer. Magenta had even taught him many of his own tricks, and whilst Riordan seemed to be on his side, if he were caught communicating with Spectrum, things could be very different. His second task would be a variation on the original task heíd been given. He smiled to himself as he imagined Gabrielís face when he realised what heíd done. He intended to completely empty Abbott and Fisherís accounts. Their records would show that the funds had been transferred to Gabrielís, but they wouldnít be, perhaps a charity could benefit. He almost laughed out loud. Meanwhile he would freeze Gabrielís account; he wouldnít be able to withdraw money to escape the otherís wrath. He owed him nothing. Losing his humour, Magenta prayed that his deception would not be discovered until heíd been rescued, otherwiseÖwell, he didnít want to think about otherwise.
He continued typing. Two of his favourite tricks, of which Matt was aware but he hoped he had forgotten, were hidden programs and disruption codes. Magenta had, years earlier, developed a way to write code which would immediately clear itself from view but would remain hidden in the background, ready to be called upon when needed.
Disruption codes were fun, and could be used for almost anything. He would use one to confuse the bank computers, allowing him entry to records and transactions, and another to scramble the already coded message to Spectrum. These specialist codes required the use of his second computer; things would be much quicker and easier with that. He decided that the reference names for both sets of code would be almost identical DC87048B and DC87O48B. Anyone giving his code casual scrutiny would probably not notice the difference of the zero in one and the letter O in the other, but it would mean he could contact Spectrum at will, almost certainly unobserved. Pressing the return key to send the message, he hoped Lieutenant Green would be paying attention; this was probably the most important communication of his life.
The sound of the bolts being pulled back on the door distracted him. Looking at his watch, he guessed that it was Simon returning. Cautiously Simon pushed the door open and was surprised at the response he received.
"Simon, come in. Iíve got a lot to do and not much time."
Simon walked into the room and aimed the gun at Donaghue; he seemed uneasy, as if expecting another attack.
Magenta turned in his chair. "Look, whatever youíve come back for, do it quickly, Iíve got a lot to do." Magenta eyed the gun pointed at him. "And you wonít need that either."
"Iím supposed to handcuff you," Simon replied, almost apologetically.
"How am I supposed to work if Iím handcuffed?" asked Magenta, exasperated.
"No, just one hand. The other end will be attached to the chains. Itís to stop you escaping."
"The doorís not doing its job properly then?" Magenta asked sarcastically.
Simon frowned, "Iím sorry, Mr Donaghue."
Magenta shrugged. "Yeah, me too," he replied, thinking more of his own situation than of Simonís sudden guilty feelings.
As Simon closed one end of the handcuffs around the end of the chains, he looked up. Something was apparently on his mind but it took him a few minutes to pluck up the courage to speak. "You," Simon paused uncertainly, "you didnít kill those guys did you?"
"Or Commander Fraser?"
"No." Magenta thought of how he could phrase his next statement honestly. "Iíve never killed a single living person." That excluded Mysterons, without giving anything away, he thought with satisfaction.
"Gabriel wants me to do a robbery for him, a big one. One that he canít do himself. He's trying to get back in favour with Abbott and Fisher. Youíve all been taken for a ride, Iím afraid. This is about greed and nothing more."
Simon approached Magenta with the other end of the handcuffs. He believed him, but Mr James would kill him if he didnít follow orders.
"Iím sorry, Mr Donaghue. Thereís nothing I can do."
"But!" Magenta tried to stop him closing the metal band around his wrist. "Thereís something you could NOT do."
"I donít have any choice, Sir."
Magenta nodded. He understood the fear James instilled into those who worked for him. Even Jack was afraid of him.
"Donít worry," he replied comfortingly.
Lieutenant Green turned to Colonel White. "Colonel, Iíve received a message."
Colonel White was intrigued by the way Green had announced this. He sounded hesitant and unsure of what to say next.
"Yes, Lieutenant. What is it?"
"IÖwell I donít know, Sir. It seems to be a Spectrum Cipher, but itís been scrambled in some way. As if thereís another layer of code interwoven."
"Can you decipher it, Lieutenant?"
"Itíll take some time, Sir."
"Get to work on it. I have a feeling that it might be connected with Captain Magentaís disappearance."
Riordan stopped abruptly as he saw the car outside Sarahís house. He knew it to be Jackís car. It appeared as though Mr James had thought of everything this time. He had suspected that James didnít trust him; heíd never said so, but there were many small details over the years. Things which, when looked at overall, spoke volumes. The final straw had to have been Pat Donaghueís kidnapping and his chance discovery of it; James knew they had been close colleagues in the old days.
Riordan had never stepped over the boss-employee boundary, using Donaghueís title and surname respectfully and learning from him. It was true to say that he would probably have done anything for his ex-boss, and he probably still would. He looked to him as a true friend, and tried always to return that trust; albeit, he suspected with a sense of guilt, within the boundaries of self-preservation. This was why he was here now, to try to protect his friendís sister, but he was too late. As he arrived he could see the door to Sarahís house opening and a very pale young woman being led from it by Jack. He could see, even from this distance that he held her arm in a very tight grip, a barely concealed gun pointed directly at her side. It had been quite some time since Riordan had seen Sarah, possibly a year, maybe a little more. It had been a chance meeting during which they had been able only to exchange a few words. The sight of her now made him smile fondly, he had always had a soft spot for Mr Donaghueís younger sister. There was definitely a family resemblance, but Sarahís features seemed softer, gentler. Her expressive eyes however shone with the same life and mischievous sense of fun as her brotherís. She was very pretty, he thought as he watched the pair head in the direction of Jackís car. But at this moment, her eyes showed only fear; it disturbed Riordan to see it, and even more his reaction to it. All he could do now, was follow Jack, and see where she was being taken. There were limited possibilities; it had to be one of the mobís properties, although it was unlikely to be where Pat himself was being held. At least heíd have no trouble convincing her to leave with him when a possibility to rescue her arose. Just follow him, he thought to himself, trying to contain his anger.
The police were starting to block off roads, as the cars carrying the Mayor and his party headed unhindered toward the harbour. The police were aware that the Mayor had a yacht moored at one of the piers; they had often had to provide security for it. Today, however, they were keeping people away for a different reason.
The roadblocks were of no concern to the helicopter flying above at the moment, or to the three sleek white craft that soared past.
"This is Captain Scarlet to Spectrum, Codeword Scorpio."
"Go ahead, Captain," replied Lieutenant Green.
"Have you arranged the launch?"
"Yes, Captain. The Harbour Master has a small but very fast and highly manoeuvrable craft ready for you."
"Is it armed?" asked Scarlet.
"To the teeth, Captain. Itís often used by the Coastguard in covert operations."
"Good, theyíre almost there. We should be only a few minutes behind them."
"S.I.G. Captain. Green out."
Scarlet turned to Ochre, who was piloting the Spectrum Helicopter. "Iím a bit concerned about them announcing where they were going."
"They want us to follow." Ochre shrugged, as best he could whilst holding the helicopter controls. "Donít know why. But they contacted us in the first place. We know it wasnít Blue."
"I know, Iím just a bit uneasy. Assuming thatís their plan, theyíre luring us out to sea, knowing full well that while theyíve got Blue and Grey, we probably wonít attack."
"You think theyíll get us out to sea then attack us?"
"Or launch their attack on the Eastern Seaboard," murmured Scarlet as he considered the possibilities. "They must be doing this for some reason. They Mysterons never do anything without a purpose."
"But if it kills us, itíll kill them too, surely. You think theyíd sacrifice themselves to get us?"
"All four of us? Yes I do! But, me? It must be something powerful if they think it could kill me too."
"Some sort of nuclear device?"
"It could be on the yacht," replied Scarlet, horrified at the thought.
"But why? It could just as easily have been in the building."
Scarlet nodded, then thought again. "But what if itís in the sea and theyíre going out to detonate it? That would explain why they announce where they were going, they need me to be near to the blast."
Ochre stared suddenly at Scarlet; he blanched at the thought. "The blast, and the tidal wave it would cause would kill everyone for miles around! And with Blue and Grey on board, they think we wonít attack. But," Ochre hesitated, he was reluctant to attack with their friends on board, "we donít know for sure that thatís their plan."
"No. I suspect thatís what theyíre counting on."
There it is." Ochre pointed out a sleek white yacht moored at the side of a long pier.
"Take us down, Captain Ochre, Iíll call the Harbour Master."
As Ochre began his descent, they saw two limousines pull up near the jetty. Captain Scarlet watched intently as the party vacated the two cars. The Mayor, his Aide, four security men and Captains Blue and Grey. Scarlet peered hard at his fellow officers; their hands appeared to be bound behind them but otherwise, they seemed alright. But from this height it was hard to tell. They certainly walked unaided, but there was something about the way Grey carried himself that suggested to Scarlet that something was wrong with him. Paying careful attention to landing the helicopter, Ochre had not had the opportunity to give more than a cursory glance to the party now heading towards the yacht.
"Can you see them? Do they look okay?"
"I think so." Scarlet let out an uncertain sigh and frowned, "I think Greyís hurt, but Iím not sure."
Now aboard the yacht, the Mysteronised Mayor cast a glance toward the helicopter that he could see in the distance, now landed and perfectly still. Scarlet and Ochre would soon catch up with them, as planned. He smiled malevolently.
"Take them inside, Iíll let you know when we need them."
Forced at gunpoint, Grey and Blue were pushed down the few stairs into the interior of the yacht. For the first time Blue got a look at Greyís injuries; he found it hard to conceal his dismay at the state of his bruised and swollen face. He turned furiously to face the guards, Grey guessed instantly what was on his mind.
"No, Blue!" he said firmly, "Iím okay."
Blue turned to look at his friend, he certainly wasnít okay, but he agreed it would do them no good at this precise moment to cause trouble. Blue knew, however, that they must stop the yacht from reaching its destination. On the way, the Mayor had informed him that the detonation would be automatic, once they were within range. It had apparently been set up that way to avoid accidental detonation, without the right signal, the bombs were harmless. But they had decided to make the most of the situation by capturing Blue and luring the other officers into a trap. Grey had been an unexpected bonus. Blue felt bad, this had originally been a one-man job, after all, and he had encouraged Grey to go with him, for a change of scene.
"The detonation will be automatic once weíre in range," Blue explained hurriedly to Grey, in case he would be silenced again. But none of the guards said a word or threatened them in any way, it seemed they were free to talk.
"What are we gonna do, Blue? We canít let them do this, butÖ" Grey looked up nodding towards the guards and sighed.
"I know," Blue nodded in reply. He was worried too; the yacht was well underway. It was at that moment that they heard a familiar voice hailing the yacht via a loudspeaker, demanding their surrender. Grey found it difficult to suppress his smile, even though the movement was actually quite painful since the beating. He had told the Mayorís Aide not to write them off, and he had been right. His smile disappeared almost immediately as he heard Thompsonís reaction as he opened the door to the cabin.
"Theyíre here at last. Get them up on deck."
Blue and Grey already understood the situation they found themselves in, but to hear it confirmed that they were there now purely as bait, incensed them. They realised too that the yacht had slowed almost to a stop, having travelled most of the way; the Mayor was allowing Scarlet and Ochre time to catch up.
On deck, the Mayor, with a loudhailer, addressed the two approaching Spectrum officers.
"Earthmen! We have your friends, stay back or you will not be the only ones killed."
Blue and Grey were now on deck under armed guard. In the distance they could see the launch piloted by Scarlet and Ochre; above them three Angel Interceptors zoomed past. New York seemed like a very long way away already. "We canít be far now, Blue. Scarlet and Ochre donít know. They wonít attack while weíre here."
Blue nodded. "Over?"
Blue and Grey made a break for it. Running for the side of the ship, Blue hurled himself over the side. Grey followed only a moment behind, but wasnít fast enough. One alert guard dived after him and caught him around his legs. Unable even to break his fall, Grey crashed to the floor with a grunt. Pulled to his feet by the guards, he saw the mocking, amused expression on the faces of Mayor Coleman and his Aide, Thompson staring down into the water. He would soon realise why. Blue had surfaced and was kicking away from the yacht, but didnít seem to be moving anywhere. He looked up to see Grey, standing by the rail, in the grip of two of the guards. Grey looked anxious; the Mysterons, on the other hand merely appeared amused. Blue felt a dragging sensation; it was becoming much harder to stay afloat. He realised that the engines were causing the suction.
"Goodbye, Captain Blue. You seem determined to choose an unpleasant death, so we will oblige you." The Mayor waved a hand toward Thompson, now standing at the controls.
The water churned deep under the yacht as the powerful turbines turned the propellers faster and faster.
"No!" Grey shouted, distraught at the sight of Blue struggling against the power of the suction to stay afloat.
From the launch, Scarlet and Ochre were horrified. Opening fire on the yacht, they tried not to hit Grey. The four guards were now returning their fire, whilst guard of Grey had switched to the Mayor and Thompson.
Grey watched in dismay as Blue was dragged under the water. With only the use of his legs, Blue tried desperately to resurface, fighting the pull of the engines. With a supreme effort, Blue broke the surface once more taking a gulp of air only moments before being dragged down once more. Grey pulled furiously in the grip of the two Mysterons. In his panic, they found now that they were the ones struggling just to hold him, his strength apparently doubling. Finally with one last determined effort, Grey pulled away from their grasp and launched himself overboard.
The Mayor shrugged and laughed.
"The fool! Itís too late to save Captain Blue now, and by the time he realises that, heíll be beyond help himself. Letís get moving. Only another 500 yards and we can say goodbye to the Eastern Seaboard and most of the Spectrum senior staff."
Taking advantage of the change in situation, Scarlet activated the microphone in his radiocap.
"Captain Scarlet to Angel One."
"This is Destiny Angel. Go ahead, Captain Scarlet," replied a heavily accented voice.
"Destiny, attack and destroy the yacht. You may not have much time, donít miss."
"S.I.G., Captain Scarlet."
"Paul!" cried Ochre in disbelief, "Blue and Grey are down there. The blast will kill them."
From Scarletís expression, it was plain that he was more than aware of the risks. His best friend was out there; his order may result in his death. How could Scarlet not be aware? The decision hung heavily on his heart.
"I know," he replied with a sigh, "but we have to act. Besides, theyíre caught in the pull of those engines. If we donít do something, theyíll either be drowned or cut to ribbons."
Ochre grimaced. He knew Scarlet was right, but it didnít make the situation any more palatable.
Grey peered into the murky darkness. Ahead of him he could make out the outline of Captain Blue. Blue was still fighting against the artificial current. Exhausted, his lungs almost at bursting point, but determined not to give in, Blue kicked to free himself from the pull of the turbines. It was no use, the suction was too strong. He was being drawn inexorably closer to the deadly blades.
Grey was, by now, almost accustomed to the water. On his initial entry, the salt water had caused his facial cuts to sting like a thousand needles being pushed into him, and the intense cold had been quite a shock. Putting those thoughts aside, he dived towards Blue. Kicking with a strong stroke, he moved easily through the water. His natural ability and manoeuvrability drew him to Blueís side in moments. Turning quickly, he took a firm hold of Blueís tunic and headed for the surface. Only able to fight the current with his legs was proving tricky, but he had to persevere for both their sakes. Angling himself away from the yacht, Grey kicked with all his might. The effort was incredible, Grey started to believe impossible. Then, almost as the thought crossed his mind that they were both in line for an untimely end, Greyís determined efforts paid off. Rising to the surface, approximately 20 yards from the yacht, he took a deep breath then diving once more, he pushed Blue out of the water. Coughing, baulking and gasping for air, Blue knew he was lucky to be alive. The pair now rose and kicked away from the yacht. They had gone, as yet, unnoticed by the Mysterons, who were fully engaged in a battle with Scarlet and Ochre on the launch. Above them, Angel One prepared to swoop in for attack.
Down, Blue!" Grey shouted as he saw the precise pattern Destiny was making.
Sinking below the surface of the water once more, less than a hundred feet from the yacht, Grey and Blue took cover beneath the waves as it was blasted apart by a perfect strike by Destiny. The sound of the blast was muffled by water, but the shockwave caught the two Spectrum captains. It was as if a huge weight had been pressed against their chests, or a giant hand pushing them down and backwards. Whatever air was left in their lungs was forced out by the action of the blast and once more they found themselves in danger of drowning. Wreckage now rained down on them; large pieces of twisted metal fell into the sea all around them. One large piece that appeared to have once been a part of the stern fell directly above them. Slowed by the water, the section was still large and heavy enough to render the pair unconscious. Almost as quickly as it had caught them, the blast passed by, leaving them free to surface. Most of the wreckage had now settled, all that was left of the yacht was a burning hulk.
Scarlet and Ochre scanned the surface carefully, desperate for some sign of life. At first nothing, then one body then a second floated to the surface.
"Oh, God, no!" Scarlet ran his hands through his hair, overtaken by the tension of the situation; he paused for what seemed like a very long time, but in reality was only a fraction of a second.
Swinging the launch around, Scarlet picked his way as carefully but as quickly as he could though the debris. Pulling up alongside Captain Blue, Scarlet and Ochre hauled him into the launch. Bringing the launch around again, this time to Greyís side, Scarlet reached over and pulled him in, as Ochre tried to resuscitate Blue. Grey was coughing as Scarlet dragged him on board. Settling him into a seated position, Scarlet smiled relieved. He lost his smile almost immediately on seeing Greyís bruised and beaten face. Distracted by a violent and clearly painful coughing coming from behind him, Scarlet turned to see Ochre beaming at the now conscious Captain Blue. As Ochre removed the handcuffs from Blue and grey, Scarlet took the controls once more. Glancing at the burning shell of the yacht, Scarlet turned the launch away, he headed back to the harbour; if it exploded again, he certainly didnít want them all to be hanging around.
"I canít believe youíre still alive!" Ochre couldnít get the grin off his face. "I felt sure the propellersÖ"Ochre crumpled his nose at the unpleasant image. "If Grey hadnít pulled you out of the suction. Another second and, well, it could have been quite different."
Blue looked up, he knew he owed Grey his life, but something else now dawned on him. He grinned at Grey, who grinned back appearing to know what was coming next.
"Looks like that second saved my ungrateful life after all!"
Magenta was making significant progress with his programming. Despite the danger involved in what he was doing, the sheer audaciousness of his plan made him smile from time to time. Hearing the bolts once more, he realised he had a visitor.
"Pat?" asked a somewhat hesitant voice.
"Matt!" Magenta called.
Entering the room, Riordan leaned against the desk at which Magenta was working. Almost ignoring him at first, Magenta got to his feet and looked through the doorway.
"Iím on my own, Pat."
Magenta appeared relieved, then he smiled at Riordan, he seemed slightly amused. "Youíre not sure about calling me Pat, are you?"
"It feels weird." Riordan nodded.
"Well, Iíd rather you did, but itís up to you. Did you get Sarah to Spectrum?"
Riordan took a deep breath. "No, Jack was just leaving with her when I arrived."
"What? Is she okay? Where is she?"
"Sheís in one of the properties nearby."
"Matt, please. You have to help her. Youíve got to get her as far from Gabriel as you can. Please!"
There seemed to be more behind Pat Donaghueís obvious concern than he was willing to explain, he didnít only seem concerned for her life, but her general safety and well-being.
"Sheíll be okay Pat. Once youíve done the job, heíll release her, Iím sure."
"No he wonít. Matt, you have to trust me on this one. Please, get her out of there. Get her to Spectrum, please."
"Okay! Calm down. Iíll get her out, I promise." Riordan sighed, he was never comfortable with the rougher, physical side of the job, "Itís at times like this, I wish Ox were here."
Riordan was referring to Robert Oxbury. A giant of a man, broad as well as tall and as strong as an ox. The pun on his name was intentional, but not misplaced. A slow-witted man, he never realised that his main function within the group was to intimidate their enemies by his sheer size and strength. Intensely loyal, he had been utterly devoted to Donaghue and prepared to do anything he asked of him, unquestioningly. Magenta felt a pang of guilt, he hadnít even noticed his absence, although he was prepared to forgive himself, being a little preoccupied at the moment.
"He didnítÖ" Magenta lowered his eyes and shook his head, "he didnít kill him too?"
"Oh, no, he wouldnít do that, Oxís too useful to him. No, heís keeping him out of the way. Thereís no way Oxíd let Mr James do this to you. Mr James knows he can keep me in check; Iím ashamed to say that I am scared of him and I feel terrible that I havenít done more to get you out of this. Ox? Well, no offence, but heís simply not bright enough to be scared."
Magenta smiled, relieved that another of his men was still alive. "I know what you mean, Oxíd end up killing Gabriel or more likely end up being killed himself and I guess Gabriel doesnít want either to happen?"
Riordan gave a small mocking laugh, "No, but way thingís are going, itíll be one or the other sooner or later."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, come on Pat! How many of us have you seen? Four, including Mr James?"
"Heís so wound up about Abbott and Fisher, and heís terrified that youíll have enough support to take over again. Itís not just Ox heís keeping away from you. I doubt heís told anyone about your kidnapping except Jack and Simon. He didnít even tell me, I found you by accident. If I hadnít gone down to the car park when I did, youíd be here and only Mr James, Jack and Simon would know. Heís filled me in on some of the details now, because he thinks he can use me, but I suspect heís holding a lot back."
"But that doesnít make sense. When I was at your apartment, when he dragged me off for a quiet chat, he actually suggested that I take back control."
Riordan shook his head. "You canít do that and he knows it, thatís why he said it! Youíre on the run, how could you? Honestly Pat, how can you be so naÔve? Almost everything heís said to you has been a pack of lies. Donít you understand? Youíre just here to do a robbery, to buy back favour with Abbott and Fisher, and then somehow, you disappear. He just wants them to believe heís got a good enough reason." Riordan threw his arms up in a gesture of exasperation. "Whilst heís got a gun to your head, he can say what he likes, canít he?"
"How can you be so sure of his intentions? You just said yourself that he didnít tell you about me. How can you know what his plans are?"
"Because, Iíve worked with him for the last three years. Iíve seen things go from bad to worse, to much, much worse. Heís losing control and Abbott and Fisher are taking over. Then who knows, maybe heíll go missing? Do you think heís going to risk that happening?"
"But how does this prove that you know heís going to get rid of me?"
"Because I know Jack."
"What does that mean?"
"Jack never boasts that heís going to kill someone unless heís been given authority from Mr James. Otherwise, he looks foolish if heís not allowed to."
Magenta sighed heavily. "Well, Iíd better try and figure out how to get out of here then. I guess we start with you getting Sarah to safety. I canít do anything until that happens. And Matt, donít feel bad. Youíve already done more than you realise."
Riordan shrugged and pointed to the chains recently reattached to Donaghueís wrist. "Thereís nothing I can do about those, either." He sighed wearily, "Anyway, donít you worry about Sarah, Iíll see sheís alright."
"Thanks, Matt." Magenta gave a small sigh and smiled; it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Riordan spotted his evident relief; it was obviously enormously important to him.
"I wonít let you down, Pat," he reassured him.
"You never did."
It wasnít often that Colonel White visited his officers in Sickbay to conduct official business. Doctor Fawn had always frowned upon such things, and White almost always deferred to his judgment. However, this was one occasion, which required a personal visit. Another of his officers was missing and Captains Blue and Grey had some important information, which he wanted to hear first hand.
Fawn frowned with deep displeasure, as the Sickbay suddenly turned into an extension of Cloudbase Control. Colonel White sat at the foot of Captain Blueís bed. Grey lay in the adjacent bed. Neither officer seemed happy to be there. Scarlet and Ochre stood at the foot of Greyís bed.
"So, Captain," White stared thoughtfully at Blue, "you believe Captain Magenta is in the hands of his old Mob Syndicate."
"Yes Sir, the Mysterons tipped them off about where to find him."
"Well, that means heís probably in New York. But it doesnít tell us where. Captains Scarlet and Ochre, I want you ready to leave for New York in ten minutes."
"Yes Colonel," replied Scarlet and Ochre almost simultaneously.
"But Sir," began Blue.
"If youíre going to ask to accompany them, Captain, I donít want to hear it. Neither you nor Grey are in any state to go anywhere at the moment. Doctor Fawn has already informed me of the damage done to your lungs in the water. Heís told me that heís confident youíll make a full recovery, but until then, you must do as he says. As for the bombs, Iíll get the World Navy to perform a sweep of the area with a disposal team."
"Colonel, weíre okay, really." Greyís argument would perhaps have carried more weight if he hadnít immediately struggled for breath, having to take two or three slow deep breaths just to stop himself from coughing again.
"Yes," White raised his eyebrows, "I can see exactly how well you are."
"Yes, Sir," replied Grey, reluctantly.
"Doctor Fawn," White smiled, "I believe you must have the patience of a saint."
Fawn shrugged, "What can I say, on the "Impatient Patient" front, next to Captain Scarlet, these two are amateurs."
Fawn immediately regretted his statement as his two patients started to laugh, then cough violently and painfully.
"Oh!" Fawn exclaimed in frustration, helping Blue and Grey with oxygen masks to assist their breathing. "Well, at least, I think that clears up the question of how well you are."
"Exactly," added White, although his voice betrayed his concern for his distressed officers. "Now, get some rest."
Lieutenant Green had been working on the code for over an hour now; it was clearly two separate ciphers - one Spectrum one not - cleverly interwoven. To someone with no knowledge of either code, it was fairly safe to say that it was indecipherable. But with his knowledge of the Spectrum ciphers and an insight into how Captain Magentaís mind worked, Green had a very good chance of working it out. It was all a matter of time. Time! Could that be it? The second code seemed to be based largely on numbers and colons. A base time had appeared at the start of the code. Starting with the letter indicated by the base time and working forward, perhaps Green could work out the message. The added complication for outsiders would be that the second code would relate to letters, symbols, phrases and numbers indicated by the particular Spectrum cipher he was using. Green decided he didnít have time to wade through the message looking at all the Spectrum ciphers; heíd get the computer to do it. Programming his theory into a code linking to the Spectrum ciphers, he ran through all the possibilities in a fraction of the time it would have taken to look at even two or three manually. Most of the messages came up with incomprehensible nonsense, but one was pure Magenta. All those late night conversations in the Control Room, when Green and Magenta would discuss advances in computer technology and programming, had paid off. He smiled as he read the message:
I hope you havenít pulled out too much hair over this. Youíve probably realised that Iím not returning from my furlough as planned. Please pass on my apologies to Symphony; I hope she didnít wait too long.
Iím afraid Iíve been kidnapped by a man called Gabriel James, my successor of my old mob syndicate. I have until 4pm, Eastern Time, to perform a grand scale robbery for him, which Iím not going to do. When he discovers this, heís going to kill me, so Iíd appreciate your intervention!
Unfortunately, I canít tell you much. Iím on the fourth floor of a building in New York. Itís roughly fifteen minutes from the centre of Greenwich Village, but I donít know in which direction, and it has an underground car park. Sorry I canít tell you more.
Other more important stuff, he has my sister too, but Iím hoping sheíll be rescued soon. Tell Ochre to stay away, Iím afraid heíll be recognised. When you do find me (note I say when!) you have to pretend Iíve escaped from de Wittís (Iíll explain later). Bring some magnetic handcuff keys.
See you later (?).
"Colonel White, Iíve deciphered the code." Green spoke into the microphone as White returned from Sickbay. "As you thought, Sir, itís a message from Captain Magenta."
"Good, Iíll be right there, Iím on my way back now. Please relay the message to Captains Scarlet and Ochre, they are on their way to the SPJ hangar."
"Actually, Sir, part of the message relates to Captain Ochre. Captain Magenta is concerned that heíll be recognised and requests that he stays away."
White now entered the Control Room; he looked at Green grimly. "Iím afraid with Captains Blue and Grey in Sickbay, thatís a luxury we canít afford Lieutenant."
"But, Sir, couldnít I...?"
"Iím sorry, Lieutenant, I need you here, should Captain Magenta contact us again. Are you able to send a reply using the same code?"
"I believe so, Sir," replied Green, plainly disappointed to be denied the chance of going out into the field.
"Then send a reply just stating that his message has been received and understood. Thereís no need to worry him unduly that Ochre is on his way."
Riordan turned the key in the door to the apartment quietly. Gently easing the door open, he could see Sarah through the open lounge door. Her cheek was bruised and her eyes puffy and red; she had been crying. Rage bubbled within him; he tried hard to contain it. He was fully aware that Jack was a despicable low-life, but to hit a lady? Riordan shook his head, heíd teach him a lesson heíd never forget.
"Whoís there?" came a voice from inside. "Oh, itís you, Mr Riordan."
"Hello, Jack. Everything going okay?" Riordan entered the room. Sarah couldnít even bring herself to look at him. She had thought him a friend; Pat had only ever had good things to say about him, and here he was, apparently supervising her kidnapping. Jack had told her that she was there to ensure that her brother did what he was told. It was horrible; she had told him what she thought, never one to hold back her feelings. She had felt the back of Jackís hand for her honesty.
"Sarah?" Riordan began. He stopped and sighed as Sarah refused even to look up.
"Do you know how long Iím supposed to stay here?" asked Jack impatiently. "I want another crack at that brother of hers."
"Leave him alone!" snapped Sarah angrily, surprising even herself.
"Youíre already bruised, do you really want another?" asked Jack callously.
"Weíre to take her to Mr James, immediately."
"No!" cried Sarah, her voice filled with determination and fear.
"You know Mr James?" asked Riordan.
"Too well!" Sarah, whilst plainly scared, was also filled with hatred.
"Sarah, whatís wrong?" asked Riordan sympathetically.
"Donít pretend you donít know what he tried to do."
"I donít know. When?" asked Riordan, confused.
"Four years agoÖif it werenít for PatÖ" Sarah put her hands to her mouth to prevent the sob, which threatened to burst from her. "What now? Does he want to pick up where he left off?" she asked, her voice cracking with despair.
"Oh God! He didnítÖ?"
Sarah closed her eyes. "He tried. Pat found me in time; I thought he was going to kill him. I almost wish he had."
Riordan nodded. Now things made sense to him. The incident four years ago, when Pat and Gabriel had fallen out. Why Pat refused to talk about it. Why he was so insistent that Sarah be rescued.
"So, Mr James is human after all?" asked Jack maliciously, as he turned to pick up his jacket.
Riordan snapped. This latest comment from Jack was more than he could bear. In a furious rage, he took his gun and brought the butt of it down on the back of Jackís head; who slumped to the floor immediately.
"Thereís nothing human about that sort of behaviour!" Riordan shouted angrily.
Sarah cowered on the sofa, Riordan had proved himself to be as violent as Jack, perhaps more so. She held a trembling hand to her bruised cheek.
Riordan looked down at the gun in his hand; he almost seemed surprised to see it there. He carried one, they all did, but most would have assumed otherwise. Few had actually seen it in his hand and no one had ever heard a single shot fired from it. As Riordan looked down at Jack, he wondered if the gun even worked. For a fleeting moment, it seemed as if he might find out. Re-holstering the gun, Riordan took a deep breath and turned back to face Sarah.
"Iím sorry, Sarah." Riordan finally composed himself. "But the way heís treated you and Mr Donaghue, I wouldnít normally. You know me, butÖIím sorry."
Sarah, put her right hand to her mouth and fought back her tears, "Howís Pat?"
"Heís okay. Heíll be a lot better for knowing youíre alright, though. Did he hurt you? Well, apart from your cheek."
Sarah shook her head, still upset and confused. Was Matt on her side or not? Was he going to take her to James?
"Not to worry. I think we should go."
"To James?" Sarah withdrew in horror.
Magenta smiled; he had received two messages almost simultaneously. One to say his message had been received by Green and understood. The other from Matt, he was on his way to Spectrum New York HQ with Sarah. Magenta sighed with relief.
Everything was going well. He had managed to get details on the account numbers he had been given. After all, he had three separate account numbers; he had to know which was which for the plan to work. Granted a variation of the plan would work regardless of which account belonged to whom. But he wanted so much for blame to appear to land at Gabrielís door, and he looked like he might get just that. The three accounts, belonging to James, Abbott and Fisher, represented the "legal" arms of the three largest mob syndicates in New York. All the money laundering would be done here; all the money used for illegal activities, either directly or indirectly, would at some point in the process travel through these points. It had been an idea that he himself had pioneered. It looked legal; it was legal, most of the time. This was one of the reasons they had never caught him. All those years ago, they knew he was the boss, but they couldnít touch him for anything. He suddenly realised how frustrating that must have been for Commander Fraser. He looked up and sighed. Time for another message to Spectrum, he thought.
Green whistled in amazement as he read the World Navy Report that was just being transmitted to Cloudbase.
"What is it Lieutenant?" asked White, curious about what could have provoked such amazement.
"The World Navy Report, Sir, itís just coming in."
"What does it say?"
Green shook his head; he still couldnít take in how close they had come to a disaster. Literally, how close. "They report a total of ten atomic devices, Colonel. Spread out along the coast, only a mile out to sea. They have been disarmed and removed. They would have been detonated by a radio signal at short range."
"So when the Mayorís yacht came within range it would have blown?"
"Yes, Sir." Green nodded. "It looks that way."
White raised his eyebrows and sighed. "They were so close. If they hadnít got greedy and tried to kill the Captains too, they would have probably have managed it."
"Well, I wonder."
"Whatís that, Lieutenant?"
"Well, they do this donít they? They have a plan, but they tell us about it, and give us time to try to stop them. Theyíre playing and weíre not. They kill for fun, just to see if weíll work it out. Sometimes I feel like weíre fighting a kid whoís found a loaded gun."
"I know, Lieutenant. Itís frustrating and often appears to make no sense, but we have to persevere."
A light flashed on Greenís console, "Colonel, another message from Captain Magenta."
"Good, what does he say Lieutenant?"
Lieutenant Green loaded the message into his program and ran it. He had left the whole run of programs working, luckily, as this time, Magenta chose a different Spectrum cipher. The only legible message revealed itself to Green. It was the same style, typical Magenta, but the light-hearted message now had an edge of urgency too.
Good news! My sister is on her way to Spectrum New York HQ. Sheís in safe hands now. However, Iím not. Itís 2pm and Iím still here, unrescued, due to be killed in 2 short hours. Now, I donít want to pressure you or anything but a bit of assistance would go down very well right now.
While I think on, itís just occurred to me how annoying it must have been for Ochre that he couldnít get me for anything when I wasÖermÖworking here. So, many apologies, but Iím glad he didnít, maybe things would have worked out differently.
Donít forget, when you find me, you must arrest me, itís quite important. If you find somebody called Matt Riordan, heís okay, if you find somebody called Jack, watch him, heís dangerous. Thereís another guy called Simon, I donít know much about him, but they all know where I am.
Anyway, please find me.
"Sir, weíre very close to the deadline and as yet, we have nothing to go on."
"I know, Lieutenant." White frowned. "I donít need to tell you how concerned I am about this. I understand Magentaís reasons for not performing the robbery, but at the moment, I have to say that I wish he would, just to buy some time." White paused for a moment, he appeared to be contemplating something, "Well, itís a long shot, but we have to try everything. Find out as much as you can on the members of Magentaís old mob, especially the four heís mentioned already. If you find anything useful, let Captain Scarlet know. Inform Spectrum Headquarters New York that we are on the trail of a known criminal, Patrick Donaghue. His sister will be arriving shortly and we need to find out as much as we can from her. Inform Captains Scarlet and Ochre that they should go there directly. All we can do is wait and hope she knows something about his whereabouts."
"Shall I reply to his message, Colonel?"
White tapped a finger on the console whilst he thought about what to say. Certainly they should say something, but he couldnít lie to the captain, but neither could he say that he had no idea where he was. "Tell him that weíre following every lead and not to worry."
Green glanced up at Colonel White; he could see the expression on his face was distant and troubled.
"Sir?" Green began, tentatively.
"I know, Lieutenant, I know," White looked towards Green, his own deep concern and worry for Captain Magenta was reflected in the face of the young Lieutenant.
"Iím sure heíll be okay, Sir," Green replied hopefully, with nothing to back up his assertions.
"I pray that youíre right, Lieutenant." White emitted a deep, hopeless sigh.
Riordan pulled up in front of the Spectrum Headquarters building. Switching off the engine, he turned to look at Sarah seated next to him. He had been very quiet, almost silent, for the whole journey. Now he appeared worried and distracted.
"Whatís wrong, Matt?" asked Sarah, a little nervous, as if she was worried heíd changed his mind and was about to take her back.
"Itís Pat, I feel like Iím letting him down."
"I have to tell them about whatís happened, the only way to do that is to tell them where he is. Theyíll take him back to de Wittís."
Riordan gazed at her with a puzzled expression.
"What do you mean? How can you not know?"
"I donít know how to answer that, except to ask, why would I know?"
"De Wittís is a terrorist prison. Thatís where heís been for two and a half years. He escaped six months ago."
Sarah put her hand to her mouth, her eyes widened, she was clearly shocked at the news.
"Thatís why I didnít have a contact number for him? He used to call me. The calls were always brief. Oh, Iím so stupid! Pappy was right about him after all!"
"No! Patís a good man, he was framed."
"Oh, stop it!" Sarah was beside herself, holding her hands to her face. Riordan looked on with distress as he saw the tears dampening her fingers.
"Please, Sarah. Donít cry." He offered her his handkerchief. "Really, he was framed. He never killed anyone in his life, he wouldnít hurt a fly."
"Killed!" To Sarah, the news was too sudden and impossible to comprehend. Her brother, her beloved brother, whom sheíd defended to the rest of their family had become a murderer; she felt so hurt and betrayed.
"But he didnít do it!" Riordan insisted, wishing he could take a step back and start the conversation again, if only heíd realised that she had no idea.
"Stop it, Matt. Iíll never speak to him again! How could he lie to me like that? After everything? Iím the only one; nobody else in the family will even acknowledge him! I stuck my neck out for him, Pappy hates it that I even speak to him. When this comes out, oh God! Iím not going to give up my entire family for a brother who lies to me!"
There was nothing Riordan could say to make Sarah feel any better. He had assumed that she would have known about de Wittís.
"I have to go in. Please come with me, theyíll look after you. Youíll be safe." Riordan sounded distracted and miserable.
Sarah dried her eyes with Riordanís handkerchief. Despite everything he had just told her she knew that both herself and Pat were still in danger. From all the dreadful things that Jack had said earlier, she had deduced that Pat was very likely to be murdered once this was all over. She could never speak to him again, but she couldnít let that happen to him either; whatever else heíd done, he was still her brother.
"Iíll come in." She spoke quietly, wearily. "You have to tell them where he is. I donít think the alternative is any better for him than prison."
Scarlet pulled up behind Riordanís car, moments after Sarah and Riordan had entered the building. He and Ochre walked into the Spectrum Headquarters building to see a man and a woman being escorted from the reception area towards an interview room.
"Captain Scarlet, Captain Ochre, good afternoon," the desk sergeant greeted them cheerfully. "You couldnít have arrived at a better time. Miss Donaghue and a guy called Riordan have just arrived."
"Whoís this Riordan?" asked Scarlet.
"Heís a high ranking member of Donaghueís mob syndicate."
Surprised, both Scarlet and the desk sergeant stared at Ochre, who had replied without even thinking about it.
"I...er...did some research." It was a hasty excuse; after all this time, he was surprised himself that he remembered.
"You think that Donaghueís back in the area then, Captain?"
"Yes, we know he is, but he wonít be for long." Ochre turned to Scarlet, "I should probably question Sarah. Will you take Riordan?"
"S.I.G. Find out as much as you can."
"If youíd follow me, Captains."
They were both about to turn when Scarletís epaulettes flashed. His cap microphone swung into position.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" Scarlet listened intently to Greenís message. "Well, actually heís here at HQ." He paused, listening again. "Yes, thatís right." Another pause. "I see. Thank you, Lieutenant."
"Everything okay?" asked Ochre.
"Yeah, I suspect Iíll find out quite a bit from our friend Riordan."
"Good, weíre running out of time."
Scarlet and Ochre followed the desk sergeant to two rooms, almost at the end of a long corridor. Entering one, the sergeant approached Sarah and asked her to follow him to another room, where Captain Ochre would have a few questions for her. She was nervous but keen to help, although she felt there was little she could say.
Scarlet entered the second room and looked with compassion at the decidedly edgy Riordan.
"Can I get you anything, Mr Riordan?" he asked as the sergeant closed the door behind him.
"No, thank you, CaptainÖ?"
"Iím sorry, Captain Scarlet. We havenít got much time, Mr Riordan. Can you tell us where we can find Patrick Donaghue?"
"ErÖwellÖyes. How do you know there isnít much time?"
"Weíve been after him for some time, he could disappear at any moment."
"Oh, I see. I was, er, thinking about something else."
"Where is he, Mr Riordan?"
"Iíll take you to him."
"That wonít be necessary, just tell us where he is."
"Look, Iím not going to do that, okay? Iím coming with you; even if we leave right now heíll only have half an hour by the time we get there. I have to get him out of there; I need to be sure heís safe, for Sarahís sake. Take it or leave it?"
"Then, I guess we take it, Mr Riordan. Iíll see if my colleagueís finished."
Scarlet stepped out into the corridor to find Ochre already there.
"She doesnít know anything. Any better for you? And what was your conversation about before?"
"Oh, that was Green, thereís been another message. He was just telling me a little about Riordan. Apparently, Pat mentioned him in his last message; he thinks heís a good guy and he knows where he is. But he wonít just tell us; heís insisting on taking us to him. Going by what Pat says, I believe we can trust him, but we havenít got many options here. I think I should go with him."
"Hang on, Iím coming too. You canít go in there on your own, we donít know how many of them there are or anything."
"What if he recognises you?"
"So, what if he does? What if Magenta comes here on a mission one day?"
Scarlet shrugged. "Guess so. Come on then, we only have half an hour."
Scarlet opened the door to the interview room. "Mr Riordan, please come with us."
"What about Sarah?"
"Donít worry, Mr Riordan, sheíll be looked after."
Captain Scarlet led the way back down the corridor towards the main reception area, cautiously Ochre lagged behind slightly. It didnít exactly have the effect he had hoped, as Riordan took the opportunity to drop back a pace to speak to him.
"Yes, Mr Riordan?" Ochre asked, as he quickened his step slightly.
"Mr Donaghue didnít kill Commander Fraser."
Ochre turned to look at Riordan, then wished he hadnít. He was willing to accept that he may be recognised, but had been trying to avoid the possibility. But now he turned in amazement, staring at Riordan. Magentaís message now made sense; he hadnít heard the second one, but the first had told of his supposed escape from de Wittís Penitentiary. So thatís what heís told them, he thought trying hard not to smile.
"You believe he was framed for it?"
"Yes, Sir," Riordan nodded, clearly not realising to whom he was speaking.
Ochre couldnít believe he was having this conversation. After all he was discussing, with a known criminal, whether he thought that his friend and Spectrum colleague, had killed him years earlier. The situation was bizarre.
"Well, perhaps youíre right, Mr Riordan. But we still need to find him."
Relieved to have reached the end of the corridor, Ochre approached the desk where Scarlet was already signing release papers.
"Please arrange for Miss Donaghue to be taken to Cloudbase."
"Cloudbase, Captain?" asked the Desk Sergeant with some surprise.
"Yes, Sergeant." Scarlet spoke trying to sound as if it were routine procedure. "We have an investigation to carry out, it will be easier if we have her on hand there."
"Anything you say, Captain."
Magenta checked and rechecked the last few lines of code. It had been quite a struggle to complete this particular task on time. Time, he thought, looking at his watch, three thirty five. Heíd heard nothing from Spectrum since the last message saying that they were following every lead. Having no idea that Riordan had given himself up, he believed they had no leads, except the vague indication of his location that he himself had given them. There was nothing Magenta could do now; in twenty-five minutes, he would, in all probability, be killed. But at least he could give Gabriel some serious problems, which he would probably never resolve. Almost as an afterthought, he had programmed one final detail, which, he hoped, may just save his life. He pressed the send key on the small computer; across town, bank accounts were being altered. Rubbing his eyes, he sighed as he glanced at the handcuffs. Spectrum handcuffs. Did Gabriel really have a member of Spectrum working for him?
Magenta sighed as he heard the bolts being pushed back on the door. Who could this be now, he wondered? He didnít even hear the door open, by the time he turned James was already standing inside the room.
"What do you want?" asked Magenta with a frown.
James gave him a thin smile; he took a quick look at the screen, covered in lines of, what to him, were unintelligible symbols, and gave a smile of satisfaction.
"All is proceeding well I trust, Patrick?"
"See for yourself," suggested Magenta, knowing full well that James couldnít understand a word of it.
"Oh, believe me, Patrick, your code has been carefully scrutinised."
Magenta didnít even blink in response. He had anticipated this and written it with that in mind. To anyone giving it even rigorous scrutiny it would appear to be doing exactly what James had requested, but the hidden programs and disruption codes were really the heart of the program, doing all the work behind the scenes. Nobody would even know they were there. Magenta was particularly heartened by the fact that it certainly couldnít have been Matt checking it, as heíd been too busy finding Sarah. Nobody else knew his tricks; nobody except he himself could stop it now, anyway.
"So, what happens at four oíclock?"
"Well, Patrick, we all check our accounts and smile happily at all your hard work."
"And what happens to me?"
"Why, you go free, of course."
"Somehow, I find that hard to believe."
James smiled and nodded, "Youíre probably right."
At that moment, Jack walked in. He looked different somehow, pale and unwell.
"Thereís no trace, Mr James. Iíve put the word out; someoneís bound to find him soon."
James frowned; he appeared angry and frustrated.
"Lost something, Gabriel?" Magenta asked with an amused smirk on his face.
"You! I should have realised straight away. I knew I couldnít trust him. But no matter, Riordaníll turn up sooner or later; I can deal with him then. Youíve done the job already, so I donít need Sarah and now, I donít need you."
"Oh but you do. You have twenty minutes to let me go and Iíll give you the code to reverse what Iíve actually done," replied Magenta with an air of smug satisfaction.
"What are you talking about?"
"I didnít do what you asked. I thought it would be much more fun to empty Fisher and Abbottís accounts, and make it appear as if the money was transferred into yours. Your account is frozen, but only after, as it will appear, that you have transferred out the majority to a personal account in Europe. One-way flight tickets to Paris are also booked in your name. To Abbott and Fisher, itíll look like youíre fleeing the country with all their money."
Gabriel was momentarily stunned by the news, unable to think or react. "TheyÖtheyíll kill me!" he finally stammered.
"Youíre probably right," replied Magenta, turning Gabrielís earlier statement back on him. "I can reverse the program. But youíd have to let me go first."
James pulled himself together. "I donít believe you. Simon checked that code thoroughly."
"Simon can only check what he can see."
"Simon, get in here!" yelled James.
Simon hurried into the cell at Jamesí command. From the tone of his bossí voice Simon could tell that something was very wrong.
"You checked Donaghueís program?"
"Yes, Sir. It did exactly what you asked him to do."
"Yeah, except, Simon, you didnít see this." Magenta entered a couple of pass codes and several previously unseen pages of code scrolled onto the screen.
"What?" Simon was astounded. "How did you do that?"
Simon read through the code as quickly as he could. All of the colour seemed to drain away from his face as he read. He looked at Magenta who raised his eyebrows in a questioning manner.
"How did you do that?" he repeated, still unable to take it in. Then he realised that the worst part was still to come. "Mr James, heÖ" Simon shook his head, "heís emptied two accounts and frozen the third. Thereís other stuff too, I canít go through it all this quickly."
James looked in panic at his watch; it was three forty five.
"Simon, can you reverse it?"
"No, Sir. Itís password protected."
"Whatís the password, Patrick?"
Magenta stared back. "Youíve got to let me go first."
"Iíll kill you where you sit!" James drew out his gun and aimed directly at Donaghueís head, "Now tell me the password."
Beyond the door, they heard the faint sound of the elevator doors opening, then a voice shout.
Magenta looked over to the door. He knew at once that the voice was Scarletís. Glancing up at Gabriel, he saw that he had turned his attention to where the sound had come from.
"Well, it seems as though someoneís found him already." James smiled; it was a cold, merciless smile. "Jacob, bring Mr Riordan in here."
"Matt, get out of here! Youíll be killed!" Magenta yelled urgently as Jack left. He had shouted partly to warn Riordan and partly in the hope that Scarlet would hear him and realise that he was not alone.
"If I canít make you tell me that password by threatening you," James spoke with an ominous tone, "then maybe youíll open up a bit more with a gun to your friendís head."
Damn! Thought Scarlet as Riordan raced from the elevator, the element of surprise was gone. He and Ochre ran the length of the corridor, following Riordan. Ahead of them, they heard a single gunshot; both of them prayed that it wasnít Magenta. Rounding the corner, Ochre and Scarlet saw a young man standing over Riordan who lay on the floor holding his injured shoulder, blood pouring out of the bullet wound, staining his clothes. Jack looked up; apparently expecting another member of the mob to enter the room, he was caught off guard to be confronted by two Spectrum officers. Jack raised his gun, but Scarletís was already on him, firing a single round; Scarlet watched as he spun backwards to the floor. Ochre ran onward; Magenta was here somewhere and he guessed he was nearby. Ahead he saw an open door with light streaming out; it was the only one. This had to be it. As he approached, he heard a voice.
"Thank you, Jacob. Bring Mr Riordan in here, perhaps this will make Patrick talk."
Ochre sighed inwardly with relief. Magenta was alive and indeed in that room. Whoever was in there with him clearly believed that the shots had been fired by one of their own men. Ochre had regained the element of surprise. Walking quickly to the door, Ochre levelled his gun at James and stepped into the room.
"Drop your weapons and get to the back of the room," he ordered.
James head spun to the left, he couldnít believe it. Rescuing Sarah was one thing, but calling in Spectrum, heíd never have believed it of Riordan, especially as it meant Donaghueís return to prison.
Without a momentís hesitation, Simon bent down and rested his gun gently on the floor and backed off to the far wall. It appeared as though James wouldnít be quite so compliant.
"Captain," he spoke as he eased his gun out of its holster using only his thumb and forefinger, "perhaps we can come to some sort of arrangement. Iím not breaking any laws here; I take it that itís Donaghue youíre after?"
"Youíre not breaking any laws?" asked Ochre with surprise. "Well, how about kidnapping, or at the very least, unlawful imprisonment? Would I be right in assuming that Donaghue isnít exactly here by choice?"
"Spot on!" replied Donaghue.
"I wasnít speaking to you," snapped Ochre in reply, without taking his eyes off James.
"Now look Captain," James began again, "Iím sure weÖ" He stopped suddenly, his eyes opening wide as he stared straight at the Spectrum officerís face. "Fraser!"
James spun the gun back fully into his hand as he suddenly recognised the former detective. His gun already trained on James, Ochre fired first. Jamesí gun clattered to the floor as he held his bleeding and painful arm.
"I donít believe it!" he said between his teeth, staring in bewilderment at Ochre. "But I thought you were dead!"
Scarlet appeared in the doorway in time to hear Jamesí statement. He laughed as he snapped a pair of handcuffs on Jamesí wrists.
"Not again, Ochre?"
Ochre looked up, not knowing quite what to say. Scarlet continued:
"You must look a lot like that guy, this is the third time."
Ochre shrugged, realising that Scarlet was trying to cover for him. "I can think of worse people to be mistaken for."
Turning to face Magenta, he now said the words that, when he was Commander Fraser, he had always wanted to say.
"Patrick Donaghue, youíre under arrest." Ochre unlocked the side of the handcuffs attached to the chains and transferred it onto Magentaís left hand. Simon was also handcuffed and all three were led from the cell.
Further up the corridor, on the way back to the elevator, Magenta was relieved to see Riordan, propped up against the wall, still very much alive, although badly injured.
"Matt, are you okay?" he asked, kneeling at his side.
"Iíll be fine, Mr Donaghue."
"I thought I told you to call me Pat."
"ButÖwell I thoughtÖI mean, I got you arrested again. Youíll spend the rest of your life in de Wittís."
"Matt, you saved my life, and Sarahís. Youíre a good friend."
"Well, actually, you might not think so when I tell you this." Riordan took a deep breath. "I told Sarah about de Wittís. I had no idea that she didnít know already. She was really upset, Pat, she thinks youíve murdered someone."
Magenta put his handcuffed hands up to his face and let out a deep sigh; this was going to take some fixing. He rubbed his eyes and lowered his hands once more.
"How did you leave it?"
Riordan shook his head. "She wonít even speak to you again, Pat. Iím really sorry."
"Look, Matt, donít worry. Sheíll come round, I promise. Iíll sort it out, itís my fault for not telling her, not yours. Donít worry, everything will be fine."
Standing up again as the elevator doors opened, Magenta watched as Spectrum police and medical staff arrived to take James, Riordan and Jack to a secure medical facility; Simon would be escorted straight to prison. One of the police placed a hand on Donaghueís arm to indicate that he should go with them.
"No, heís staying with us." Scarlet said before the police officer had a chance to do more.
"Iím sorry, Pat," Riordan said as he was helped away.
"Itís okay, Matt. Donít worry." Magenta felt guilty that Matt would worry about this and it was all so unnecessary, but he couldnít tell him. He looked towards the elevator and noticed Jack, as he was about to step inside.
"Jack!" Magenta shouted.
Jack turned his head to look back towards him. He glared, angry and frustrated. He appeared even more so as he saw that Donaghue was grinning at him, almost mocking him.
"Couldnít have happened to a nicer guy!" Magenta laughed, as Jack was pushed inside.
James gave Donaghue a last glance, his expression was a mixture of bitter hatred and fear for what Donaghue had done. Once Abbott and Fisher checked their accounts they would be after him, even in prison. He felt that he was as good as dead now. He looked again at Ochre, no, he was certain that was Fraser, absolutely certain. Maybe, this was information he could use. Without a word he entered the elevator.
The elevator doors closed, all three Spectrum officers waited a few moments to be sure it had actually left the floor. As they saw the indicator show it had passed the third floor, Scarlet let out a whoop of joy and clasped his arms around Magenta. Similarly, Ochre joined in the noisy celebration.
"Sorry we cut it so fine, Pat," Ochre said finally, getting the key to the handcuffs out of his pocket once more. Releasing Magenta, Ochre couldnít stop smiling.
"And you finally got to say it too," replied Magenta with a broad smile.
"Say what?" asked Scarlet.
"I finally got to arrest him. Nearly couldnít stop myself laughing at the idea, though; how bad would that have been?"
Scarlet laughed, "I still canít believe that you managed to convince them you were in de Wittís!"
"And for my murder, of all things!" added Ochre.
"I should go on the stage, I missed my vocation," agreed Magenta.
"No, I think you doing fine where you are." Scarlet grinned at his friend.
"There is one thing though," Ochre sounded serious now.
"What?" asked Magenta suddenly worried.
"Sheís okay isnít she?" Magenta interrupted.
"Yeah, sheís fine. Sheís on Cloudbase. I think you should talk to her, Pat."
"I canít, Rick."
"Look, Pat. She thinks youíve lied to her, she thinks youíve been in prison for murder."
"Havenít you lost enough family through all this?"
"Back off, Rick. This is nothing to do with you."
"Pat," Scarlet tried to reassure him, "itís my fault, I asked for her to be taken to Cloudbase. I thought sheíd be safe and that, well, maybe you would want to tell her. Sheís had a nasty shock, Pat. Give her some good news."
"I canít believe youíd put me in this position!"
"For Godís sake, Pat! Whatís wrong with telling her?" asked Ochre, confused by Magentaís reaction.
"You donít understand."
"No, youíre right, so tell us," Ochre demanded.
"Sheís stood by you when your dad disowned you. Give her a chance, surely you owe her that," Scarlet tried to keep the peace.
"I donít want her to think Iím trying to buy her approval. If I tell her about Spectrum, itís like Iím trying to use one good thing to wipe out all the other things."
"Pat," Ochre spoke softly, "I can understand that youíd be worried about your father thinking like that, but Sarahís never thought that way. But now she thinks youíve murdered someoneÖme in fact. You canít let her think that, it wouldnít be fair."
Magenta gave a deep sigh before agreeing. "Alright, alright Iíll talk to her."
"In uniform." Ochre added.
Magenta nodded gloomily.
It was approaching six thirty when Captain Ochre led Sarah Donaghue to Sickbay. They had spoken at length about the ordeal she had suffered, and what she knew about various members of the Syndicate. It seemed odd to her that her brotherís name had only infrequently warranted a mention. She had pretty much expected the whole interview to be about him. At one point in the conversation, Ochreís epaulettes had flashed red. He had excused himself and returned a few minutes later saying that he wanted to take her to sickbay to get checked out by Doctor Fawn. She had protested, but to no avail. She just wanted to go home.
"Thatís a pretty nasty bruise youíve got there, Miss Donaghue."
"Thereís no need for all this fussing," Sarah replied, as Doctor Fawn stood back from examining her cheek.
"Itíll be about a week before that starts to fade, best thing to do, is get some ice on it to take the swelling down."
"Iíll be fine. Are the captains finished with me? Can I go home now, please?" Sarah was looking dejectedly down at the floor. She was exhausted and distraught; still shaking, she pushed her hair back from her face.
Doctor Fawn looked to his right and noticed Captain Magenta waiting in the doorway. He appeared a little apprehensive, but heíd made a promise and was determined to keep it. Fawn smiled, this was just the tonic that he felt Sarah needed.
"Not yet," the Doctor advised, "Captain Magenta is here to see you."
Sarah sighed heavily as she heard him approach. "Not more questions?" She looked up; her eyes widened. "Pat?" The surprise of seeing her brother in Spectrum uniform had almost taken her breath away; he barely heard her speak his name.
"Iím sorry I didnít tell you, of all people."
"But how, when? I donít understandÖ" Sarah was lost for words.
"I havenít been in prison, I didnít murder anyone. Iíve been here; Iím a Spectrum Captain. I have been for the last three years. Well a bit more than that actually."
"A Spectrum Captain?" Sarahís face now positively glowed with pride, "What did he say? Magenta? Oh Pat, Iím so proud of you! Why didnít you say anything? Wait till Pappy hears about this!"
"No! You canít tell him."
"But Pat, why? Heíll be so proud of you. Donít you think he wants to see you again? It hurt him so much when he turned his back on you. But you know what heís likeÖheís so proud and stubborn."
"I canít buy him back with this, I canít expect him to forgive me for everything thatís happened, just because of this."
"But he would, Iím sure he would."
"No. Like you said, heís stubborn. What if he wonít forgive me? I canít bear that again."
"Promise me, Sarah. Promise you wonít tell anyone."
"IÖ Oh, PatÖ Are you sure?"
"Promise me, please."
"I promise." Sarah agreed, reluctantly.
Pat pulled her close for an affectionate embrace. "Iím sorry about everything thatís happened, Sarah."
"Donít ever lie to me again, Pat."
Donaghue stood back and gazed down at his sister. He had forgotten how much smaller than him, she was; she barely reached his shoulders.
"I wonít. Thatís my promise to you. Come on, Iíll take you home."
Magenta led Sarah though the corridors of Cloudbase towards the helipad. It had actually come as quite a relief to finally tell a member of his family. He still felt that it would take something quite extraordinary to warrant telling his father though. Maybe one day.
This story is based on characters created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson for the TV series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
Some events and characters Copyright © of all trademarks materials (Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons, Stingray, all characters, vehicles, crafts, etc.), owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton. Information of the series are all been taken from copyright © materials (books, magazines, videos, T.V. media, comics, etc) owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.